A Pietermaritzburg family is battling to come to terms with the grisly discovery of an intruder’s body in their garden on Friday after he was mauled to death by their two pitbulls.
The intruder was found early on Friday morning when the family’s domestic worker went out into the garden to hang up washing.
Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said that in the early hours of Friday, two men climbed over the wall of the Scottsville Extension house to commit either housebreaking or house robbery.
Ngobese said the men did not know the family had pitbulls.
“The pitbulls chased the men. The one was able to run away however the other man was mauled and killed.”
Police found “housebreaking implements” and a knife near the man’s body. He was also wearing gloves.
The family, although traumatised by the gruesome find, said if it had not been for their two dogs, Sandy (3) and Riddick (6), the men might have broken into the house and hurt the family.
Hlube Radebe, owner of the dogs, said he had left his two dogs at his grandmother’s house as the flat he moved into recently did not allow pets.
He said he had taken his dogs for training in Hilton and had socialised them from a young age, taking them on walks and jogs and letting them meet other dogs and people.
“In the six years I have had Riddick and the three years I have had Sandy, there has not been a single incident until now,” said Radebe.
“It is just three women living in the house. My grandmother turned 80 last week. My dogs protected my family.
“God knows what would have happened if the men had got into the house,” he said.
Nomusa Hlengwa (80), the home owner, sat tearfully on her couch and recounted the events of the morning.
“I heard our dogs barking and the neighbours’ dogs barking at around 3 am,” said Hlengwa.
“I heard someone calling for help, but it did not sound like it was coming from my yard. I thought it was on the road.
“I went back to sleep and when I woke up, my helper came to me. She was shaking and very scared.
“She told me there was a body in the garden, but I have not been outside. I did not want to see.”
“I do not know what would have happened if we did not have our dogs. I think the dogs saved us.”
Hlengwa said she was traumatised over the life lost and said whenever she hears dogs barking, she thinks about the attack.
“It is just terrible,” she said, while wiping away the tears falling down her cheeks.
Hlengwa’s daughter, Gcina Radebe said she was “angry and depressed” for her mother.
“We are not safe during the day and we are not safe at night. It is just three women staying here. The dogs saved them.”
Ngobese said an inquest had been opened into the death of the intruder and a case of attempted housebreaking had been opened.
Hlube Radebe with his two dogs Sandy and Riddick, who Radebe said saved his 80-year-old gran and aunt from being victims of crime.
Pitbull Federation of South Africa (PBFSA) chairperson Jeanette Erasmus said pitbulls were not bred to be aggressive toward humans and that if socialised from a young age and given lots of love instead of keeping them just as guard dogs, they would “protect you with their lives”.
She said the worry of the dogs tasting human blood was “nonsense” and that the dogs would carry on as usual unless there was another intruder.
“They were protecting their family,” she said.