Dog attack victim sues for R2.4m
Court hears how man walking in the street lost arm in frenzied attack
“The dogs just kept coming.”
That was how a Rowallan Park man, close to tears, described the way in which a pack of dogs in the street kept on trying to get back to Gerald Cloete “to finish him off”.
Jacques van Schalkwyk, 44, was giving evidence in the Port Elizabeth High Court in a R2.4m lawsuit brought by Cloete against the owner of the dogs, Christiaan van Meyeren.
Cloete, 42, lost his arm in the attack on Saturday February 18 2017.
Van Schalkwyk also told how he used his flip-flops to beat off the blood-covered dogs which later also injured him.
In his plea before court, Van Meyeren, 48, first denied that the dogs that had attacked Cloete were his.
He also said that he was not home that day and that an unknown intruder had broken the lock and the gate that kept his dogs inside.
Cloete’s counsel, Pieter Mouton, said Cloete had just been walking down the street when he was attacked by the dogs.
He said Cloete had lost his left arm in the attack.
Mouton said the court was, at this stage, only being asked to rule on whether Van Meyeren was liable for Cloete’s damages and not on the amount that should be paid.
Van Schalkwyk told the court he had been driving down Rowan Road at about 3.30pm when he saw what he first thought were dogs fighting but then realised they were attacking a person.
He soon recognised the man as Cloete, who would go round the neighbourhood asking for food and offering to do casual jobs.
“The dogs just kept coming,” a clearly upset Van Schalkwyk repeated as he described the ordeal.
“I jumped out of the car and ran towards the dogs.
“My flip-flops were holding me back and I took them off.
“There were three pitbulls – it didn’t even worry them that I was there.
“I was scared that they would bite me.
“I took my flip-flops in my hand and I was hitting and kicking them.
“There was a lot of blood. “The dogs were just focused on finishing off the man.
“I tried to push them off him. They let go and split up. “They were very agitated. “The dogs ran a short distance away.
“I was trying to keep the man alive.
“I took the seat cover from my car and used it as a pillow to keep his head up and his airways open.
“I could see he was on his way out.
“The police arrived on the scene but did not get out of their vehicle.
“His arm was totally ... ”he said, unable to finish his sentence.
Van Schalkwyk said he had then heard someone shouting: “The dogs are coming back again!”
He said: “They [neighbours] threw me a stick to beat them off.” Van Schalkwyk asked one of the neighbours for water and for a blanket. “The dogs were very agitated.
“They kept on running up and down the street.
“I asked someone to call an ambulance.
“Every time I thought Cloete was stable, the dogs were trying to come back at him.”
He said Cloete was eventually placed on a stretcher by ambulance personnel and put on a drip.
But then, “Someone in the street shouted, ‘They are not stopping’!”
The dogs came running at him for a fourth time, Van Schalkwyk said, and he ran towards them to chase them away.
“That was when they bit me,” he said.
“One went for my shoulder to get at my neck. Another was biting my ankle and my calf.
“I fell over and hit my head.”
He said he had struggled to his knees and grabbed one of the dogs by the paws.
“Then I heard the shots [fired by the police].”..