A Port Elizabeth man who was brutally attacked by three pitbulls at the weekend is fighting for his life in Livingstone Hospital after his arm was amputated yesterday. It is the second emergency operation he has had in the past two days.
Nelson Mandela Bay Emergency Medical Services district manager Brenhan Metune said the man, aged in his 50s, suffered life-threatening injuries to the chest and arms in the horrific attack on Saturday. His ears had also been ripped off. The victim, who does odd jobs in the area, was placed on a ventilator after he stopped breathing at the scene.
He was still on life support last night.
A second man who was not as severely injured was treated and discharged the same day.
Neighbours who witnessed the gruesome attack in Rowallan Park said they were baffled by the incident as the dogs had never hurt anyone before.
Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the odd-jobs man’s arm had to be amputated below the elbow yesterday.
Marcus van Meiring, who lives at the house in Rowan Street where the attack took place outside the property, was not home yesterday and could not be reached for comment.
Emergency Medical Services and the police were called to the scene just after 3pm on Saturday after neighbours phoned 10111.
Van Meiring’s neighbour, Hennie de Klerk, 50, said the victim – who was known as Marks or Pompies, according to other residents writing on social media – was well-known in the area.
“He goes around here regularly with his trolley,” De Klerk said.
The man’s wooden trolley and a black bag stood abandoned on the side of Van Meiring’s driveway yesterday.
Although some residents claimed on social media that the man had been trying to break in, none of them appeared to have actually seen him do so and no witnesses have come forward.
There were no signs on either of the two gates warning of the presence of dogs.
“I was busy with something and I just heard this terrible scream,” De Klerk said.
“When I ran out, I saw the dogs attack the man. I got hold of one and took her back into the yard.
“The other two were hiding under my bakkie and ran away after a while.”
Andre, 66, and Armand Visser, 21, who live a few houses down from Van Meiring, said they had known the dogs for years and they had never attacked anybody before. “We even got our puppy, Lady, from them. They are big dogs, but they are not vicious,” Andre, a retired policeman, said.
“The attack was so quick. We heard a scream and when we got outside we saw the dogs running.
“The dogs first hid under a bakkie. The police fired three warning shots and they ran off.
“They picked them up around the corner and put them in the police van.” He said he did not know the victim. Armand said: “We just tried to get everybody and their dogs out of the street.”
He said as far as he could remember the dogs had only got out once before and Van Meiring had put a lock on the gate after that.
Kupelo identified the second victim yesterday as Jannie van Schalkwyk.
“We didn’t link him to the attack at first, because he arrived at the hospital in a different ambulance,” Kupelo said.
He said Van Schalkwyk was bitten in the face, on the arms and his behind, but had been discharged after being treated on Saturday evening.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said they had still not been able to identify the first victim.
She said while there were rumours that the man had tried to break into the house where the dogs lived, nobody had opened a criminal complaint.
A complaint under the Animal Protection Act had been opened against the dog owner. Animal activist and pitbull lover Marizanne Ferreira said she had been asked to visit the confiscated pitbulls at the Animal Welfare Society.
“I met them this morning. They are traumatised and very confused,” she said. They are not in a great condition either
“Sadly, I believe it is too late for these dogs – the damage is done. It is probably the end of the road for them.
“Pitbulls are the villains of the dog world because they are so often used for dog-fighting. I have rehomed pitbulls with families with small children and the elderly in wheelchairs without a problem.
“It is a great pity that their strength and loyalty are being abused.”