DOGS are meant to protect people, but a man from Selborne Park in Bulawayo died when he was mauled by two boerboels in broad daylight in his own yard, while the third tried to protect him to no avail.
Neighbours watched helplessly as the vicious dogs savaged Mr John Gavhera when he returned unexpectedly from work at midday on Thursday to collect a toolbox he had forgotten.
It could not be immediately established whether the dogs belonged to Mr Gavhera (61) or to his tenant, Mr Nkosana Ndebele.
Bulawayo acting police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Nomalanga Msebele said she had not received the report, but a police memorandum seen by Sunday News suggested the dogs belonged to the late Mr Gavhera.
“The dogs could have attacked the deceased mainly because the dogs are a known dangerous breed and that they are fed by the tenant and cared for by the tenant which makes them more fond of the tenant than the owner,” the police memo read.
However, neighbours told Sunday News yesterday that the dogs belonged to the tenant at the house, Mr Ndebele who, however, vehemently denied ownership when contacted by Sunday News.
“You can write what you want. I was asked not to say anything to you by the home owners. I cannot tell you anything now, if you keep writing my name it will not be ok.
“We have a problem and you are forcing me to talk, please don’t talk to me, I am working on burial arrangements, you are disturbing me for now,” said Mr Ndebele before terminating the call.
Neighbours said they were still in shock after witnessing how the dogs savaged Mr Gavhera while they watched helplessly. It is said on the day, he went out but realised that he had forgotten his tool box home.
He returned home and noticed he did not have the gate keys, so he jumped over the pre-cast wall, prompting the dogs to attack.
“He decided to jump the gate since he had forgotten his keys and there was no one at home.
This was around mid-day.
Not long after that, a student at NUST who lives in the house next door heard him shouting to one of his dogs called Bruno.
Soon afterwards, the student heard him shouting for help as he was now being attacked by the dogs,” the neighbour who spoke to Sunday News anonymously said.
On hearing the shouts for help, the student reportedly went to alert her landlady and her two sons.
In over 40 minutes, neighbours, who had gathered watched in shock as two of the dogs tore him from limb to limb.
The neighbours said so ferocious was the attack from the dogs that neighbours feared that they would also be bitten if they intervened.
In fact, it is believed that another dog, at the same house tried to prevent the other two from attacking Mr Gavhera.
“We were afraid to intervene and we could see that the dogs had torn apart all his clothes and continued to bite him all over the body.
The third dog prevented the others from going for his throat.
The only person who could help was another neighbour who told us that the dogs would cease their attack if we poured water on them.
After we did that, the dogs dragged him about 10 metres towards the main house and left him there,” the neighbour said.
Mr Ndebele, the tenant, reportedly arrived 40 minutes after the attack and his wife then ferried Mr Gavhera to a private surgery in the city centre.
He was later transferred to UBH where he died from the injuries sustained during the attack.
The two dogs were put down on Friday morning.
Other sources who live near the house said the dogs were taken care of by both Mr Ndebele and his late landlord.
“They both took care of the dogs and when we arrived there 15 minutes after the attack, he was already on the ground.
The dogs were still young in terms of age, but very large in body size and way above the knees.
The tenant is the owner of the dogs and was not there when it happened.
He arrived later and jumped the durawall (pre-cast wall) too to stop the dogs, the dogs did not touch him at all when he chased them away.
They simply retreated and he then lifted the landlord and put him in the car.
We had failed to stop the dogs by throwing stones and objects,” said the neighbour.
The fatal attack on Mr Gavhera was a third one, as the dogs were notorious for attacking neighbours.
“This is the third time this has happened although on the two other occasions no one died.
They bit an old lady from the area and another man who had to be hospitalised.
They were very vicious dogs that scared even those passing in the street.
Even when the occupants of that house wanted to open the gate to park their cars or come out, they would first clear the road of any people because the dogs were a menace,” said the neighbour.
Local dog breeding expert Mr Nhlanhla Dube told Sunday News that Mr Gavhera’s unusual entrance into his own home might have triggered the boerboels, a known ferocious breed of dogs, to attack.
Originating in South Africa, boerboels were originally bred in remote areas of South Africa where they were kept by the farming population to protect their families and property.
The dogs, which can weigh up to 90kgs, are meant to be used purely as guard dogs.
Boerboels are creatures of habit.
If, for example, you have a gardener and he is used to wearing a uniform of a certain colour, they will find it hard to adjust when he goes to holiday and comes back in clothes of a different colour.
Even the way they interact and react to him will be different.
They are also trained by your behaviour and habits. If they know you never go out late and one day you do so and come home drunk, that behaviour and the smell confuses them.
So, in this particular case they were used to the fact that he gets in or drives through the gate and his irregular entrance triggered a defence mechanism in them,” said Mr Dube.
Mr Dube said if neighbours had reacted early and poured water on the dogs, they probably would have ceased their attack.
“This is controversial but boerboels are said to have a short memory so if their owner behaves differently, they are likely to attack.
Once they start attacking, there is no turning back.
It’s unfortunate but if people had reacted earlier and went in and poured water on them, then the attack would have probably been stopped,” he said.
— Sunday News