Dogs ‘didn’t feed on body’

2010-02-11 00:00

AN autopsy carried out on the body of a man alleged to have been partly devoured by a pack of dogs owned by a local sangoma has revealed that most of his injuries were not consistent with dog bites.

The postmortem showed that the victim suffered a fractured skull consistent with a severe beating, as well as stab wounds.

Jeanette Salzwedel of the Pieterma­ritzburg Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said yesterday that only a few bites to the legs could be attributed to dogs, but there was no evidence that the mutilation of the victim’s face was caused by dogs feeding on the body, as had been alleged,

“It is possible they may have licked some of the blood and may have bitten the person once or twice, but we now know they definitely did not feed on the body,” Salzwedel said.

Mdidweni Mkhize (58), allegedly a sangoma in the Hopewell area outside Pietermaritzburg, appeared in court earlier this week in connection with a charge of murder.

The charge arises from the death of Thabo Ramaholo, whose severely mutilated remains were discovered at Mkhize’s homestead at the weekend.

Mkhize was remanded in custody until Monday pending further investigations.

He allegedly told police that when he found his dogs encircling an intruder, he stabbed the man during an altercation. Thereafter the dogs started to feed on the corpse.

Salzwedel has worked tirelessly alongside police investigators to ensure that all the dogs were captured and humanely dealt with.

She told The Witness yesterday that the SPCA is housing 14 dogs — of which three are puppies — that belonged to Mkhize.

Soon after the incident, the SPCA euthanased four dogs that were in a very bad condition. Three other dogs that had stayed at his home were also humanely put down as they were “completely unapproachable”, Salzwedel said.

She said the bodies of these three animals have been sent away to state veterinary services for rabies testing because of the extreme aggression they showed.

Salzwedel said the fate of the 14 dogs in the SPCA’s care still hangs in the balance and she is seeking legal advice about how to deal with them.

“I am not certain if they are capable of being re-homed, and the community certainly does not want the dogs to be returned to the area,” she said.

She said that if the dogs were put back into the community it is likely they would be killed.

She said there were allegations by local residents that the dogs’ owner had previously made use of the dogs to attack people.

“It appears that they were very afraid of the owner,” she added.

It emerged at Mkhize’s court appearance, before magistrate Divesh Mootheram on Monday, that he has previous convictions, including one of assault arising from an incident in which a dog he owned allegedly attacked someone.

The other two were for poaching and a dagga-related offence.

• Police recovered a large variety of animal skins from Mkhize’s homestead in the wake of the incident. A dead snake was found hanging outside the door and animal intestines reportedly hung from a pole in the yard. Wildlife investigators were also called in to investigate possible offences under nature conservation laws in relation to the animal parts.

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