Gruesome dog-fight testimony

John Harvey

A POLICEMAN tipped off about a dog fight at a farm outside Plettenberg Bay told the Knysna Regional Court yesterday that officers walked in on 10 men standing around a wooden cage where two bloodied pitbulls were at each other's throats.

Warrant Officer Marius van Huyssteen, police rural safety manager for Plettenberg Bay and surrounds, was testifying at the trial of six of the men accused of involvement in organised dog fighting and contravening the Animal Protection Act.

Peter Wall and Rudi Wall of Queenstown, Donald Wall of Port Elizabeth and Yorick Grobbelaar, Anton van Blerk and Owen Keith "Budgee" Butler, all of East London,have pleaded not guilty.

The four other men – Billy Marais, formerly of Plettenberg Bay, Fanie Joubert of Johannesburg, Ferdinand Endeman of Somerset West and Anthony Blake of Plettenberg Bay – have already been convicted and have received sentences ranging from house arrest to fines of between R10000 and R20000.

Smartly dressed in polo shirts yesterday, the six men listened intently as Van Huyssteen told the court how he had received a call from George Animal Welfare employee Karel du Toit at about 11.15am on May 14, 2011. "[Du Toit] said he had heard a dog fight was to take place in Kranshoek that night.

"I then got a call to say that it was going to take place in Ladywood, which has 30 plots.

"He told me he had received information the fight would take place at plot 18. He also told me these people may be dangerous."

Van Huyssteen received back-up from eight policemen from Kwanokuthula police station – about five minutes' drive from Ladywood.

"The big steel gate at the entrance to the property was locked with a chain. It took us about 15 minutes to lift the gate after removing the chain. When we entered the house, 10 men were standing around a wooden cage, about six metres by six metres, which was full of blood. There was also blood on the walls.

"There were two pitbulls in the cage, and they were bleeding badly. The skin had been torn off the face of one of the dogs. We told the men to lie down on the floor."

Marais admitted he owned the house.

Van Huyssteen said Du Toit and two other workers from George Animal Welfare arrived to remove the dogs and five others that were chained up on the property.

"We confiscated a laptop and also a cooler box containing medicine to improve the dogs' stamina."

Under cross-examination, the men's legal representative Ricardo Pietersen questioned why Van Huyssteen had not obtained a warrant of arrest from a magistrate in Knysna when he was first alerted to the possibility of a dog fight. Van Huyssteen stood by his own testimony.