SOUTH AFRICA -- A Rooiwal, north of Pretoria, shop assistant will have to dig into her pocket after her two Boerboel dogs broke out of their enclosure and attacked a mother and her baby she was carrying on her back.
Joyce Makhubela claimed damages in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, from the shop assistant, only identified as S. Deyzel in the judgment.
The court found that Deyzel is 100% liable for the damages Makhubela can prove she suffered. This will be determined at a later stage.
Deyzel denied liability and said her two dogs - a male and a female - were domesticated pets and not aggressive. She said they were usually kept behind a fence at the back of the Rooiwal Supermarket.
But on the morning of January 13, 2013, they managed to get out, as there was an opening in the fence. According to her this was due to burglars who had broken open a container in the back yard.
She blamed the burglars for the dogs’ “unusual behavior” and said they were “freaked out” by the presence of the burglars sometime during that night.
Deyzel earlier testified that the dogs were about a year old. She kept them in a kennel during the day in the yard behind the supermarket. They were allowed to roam the yard, behind a 1.8m fence, during the night.
Deyzel said that when she left for home the previous night, everything was in order and the gate was locked. The next morning, when she reported for work, she noticed there was a gaping hole in the fence.
She said she was surprised to see the dogs roaming around outside the yard and she tried to call them back to their kennel, but they did not respond to her.
The male dog instead ran past her in the direction of a woman passing the premises, with a baby on her back.
The dog jumped on to Makhubela and started biting her. The shop owner tried in vain to pull the dog from the woman, but she managed to grab the baby from the mother.
Deyzel, meanwhile, pulled the dog from the woman by using a chair. She was adamant that one dog attacked Makhubela. She called an ambulance which took the mother and child to hospital.
Although there was no concrete evidence of thieves, Deyzel said this can be the only explanation for the hole in the fence and the container which was damaged. She said her dogs were loving and friendly and her only explanation for their behavior was that the burglars must have upset them. “They were either annoyed or excited by the burglars,” she told the court.
Makhubela testified that she was walking to the shop with her baby, when she noticed two dogs storming towards her. She tried to run away but she tripped and fell. According to her, the dogs attacked her and her child. Her version is that she shop owner sprayed something at the dogs and they ran away, and a taxi driver came to her aid.
Acting Judge N Nkosi said there were no evidence at all that the dogs were ”freaked-out” or “confused” by the burglars or whether there were earlier burglars at the premises.
“At the time of the attack the defendant was present and witnessed the attack. The burglars were nowhere to be seen,” the judge said.
He said the defendant was responsible for her dogs and thus liable to pay damages.
(Pretoria News - April 1, 2017)