Dog attack victim: ‘I just want to die’
“I just want to die” – this is how Gerald Cloete reacted to an explanation offered by the owner of the three dogs that ripped off his arm in 2017.
In evidence punctuated by so much crying that the court had to be adjourned four times on Tuesday, Cloete said he remembered little of the frenzied February 18 attack in Rowan Street, Rowallan Park, that had left him permanently disabled.
The court had heard earlier that Cloete was well known in the area and would do casual labour or ask for food, often wheeling a trolley to collect rubbish.
“I heard the sounds of dogs approaching and then they jumped on me,” he said.
Cloete is suing the owner of the dogs, Christiaan van Meyeren, 48, for R2.4m in damages.
“We have the utmost sympathy for what happened,” Dirk Coetsee, counsel for Van Meyeren, said.
“You were the first person to be bitten by those dogs,” he said, before referring to a note in the hospital file stating that Cloete had been intoxicated.
Asked by judge Murray Lowe about his line of questioning, Coetsee said: “Our case is that an unidentified intruder broke open the gate.
“We want to know if [Cloete] saw an intruder.
“We are not suggesting that he was the intruder.”
Cloete said even though he had a record for theft, he was not doing that anymore. “I stopped stealing,” he said. “I bought the trolley. I didn’t want to be in trouble anymore.
“I wasn’t near the gate. I didn’t break the locks.”
After listening to the case argued on behalf of Van Meyeren that they did not know how or why the gate was open, a despondent Cloete shook his head and said: “It just makes me so sad. I want to die.”
He was supported in court by his mother, Annie...
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.