Rabies death: Mom wants murder charge

2012-09-02 22:38

Durban - The mother of a man who died after being bitten by a rabid dog is seeking legal advice to have the owner of the dog prosecuted for murder.

"I had so many hopes for my son. I want this matter to be taken to court so that the owner of the dog can be punished by the law," Nikiwe Majola said in Mariannhill outside Durban on Sunday.

Siyabonga died last Saturday at Durban's RK Khan Hospital after he was bitten by the dog.

Majola said her son was the breadwinner and there was no one else she could rely on. She wanted to open a case of murder against the owner of the dog.

"Our lawyers are working on drafting a law...[for] owners of rabid animals responsible for killing someone to be charged with murder," KwaZulu-Natal Environmental Affairs MEC Meshack Radebe said.

Radebe said he would submit a memo to Cabinet so that Nikiwe Majola could be assisted with legal advice.

"It's painful to us a government. We cannot allow this to go unchallenged. Our legal team is going to be working with the family, we want to test the law to see what will happen if this matter is taken to court," he said.

Radebe said his department had vaccinated 10 000 animals in the province.

"It can't be correct that an animal is more important than a human life," he said.

On Thursday last week Radebe called for the law to be changed so that owners of animals with rabies could be held responsible for the loss of a life.

Attempted murder

"There must be a provision in the legislation to charge people with murder or attempted murder.

"Owners of animals know if their animals have been vaccinated or not. We cannot charge the animals, but we can charge the owners," he said.

Radebe said his department knew of four deaths, but that there could be many more that had not been reported.

"People are not prepared to heed the call to vaccinate their cats and dogs."

Environmental affairs provincial spokesperson Jeffrey Zikhali said Siyabonga Majola was bitten by a dog in mid-June, but only sought treatment at St Mary's Hospital for the bite two days later.

"He was given the tetanus vaccine and immunoglobulin, and the first dose of rabies vaccine," Zikhali said.

"An appointment to attend Tshelenyama clinic was then organised for the remainder of his rabies doses. Some reports indicate he apparently defaulted [on] the follow-up."

Majola was admitted to RK Khan Hospital last Wednesday with left shoulder pain, palpitations, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water).

He failed to respond to treatment and died on Saturday morning.

Four people in KwaZulu-Natal have died from rabies this year.

Zikhali said a sample of the victim's saliva had been sent for testing at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, and that a post mortem would be done.

A four-year-old boy from Umlazi remains in a serious condition at Durban's Clairwood hospital after two infected dogs bit him in April.

  • march54 - 2012-09-02 23:28

    Surely there is some liability by the bitten man for not completing the prescribed treatment? If he had do this there is the likely hood that may still be alive. He contributed to his demise.

      Madoqua - 2012-09-03 07:00

      Looking at at dispassionately, he had a 0% change of survival after the symptoms started showing, which was probably the point were he went to hospital. As far as I know there is only one documented case of someone surviving this stage of rabies and it was a girl who was put into a hypothermic coma. The vaccine is probably only effective if administered within 12 hours of being bitten.

      pierrefrewd.juice - 2012-09-03 07:31

      Im not a lawyer, but to charge someone with murder, you need to prove intent. I fail to see how you can keep someone liable in a criminal case for failing to vaccinate his dog. At worst you could prosecute the owner for not keeping his dog locked inside the "yard". Stupid idea from this official, rather start to do his work, and stop thinking.

      tshepo.k.lediga - 2012-09-03 07:51

      A man has died, and a mother has lost her son. Please just show some respect

      tshepo.k.lediga - 2012-09-03 07:51

      A man has died, and a mother has lost her son. Please just show some respect

      koo.doyle - 2012-09-03 08:10

      Themba, insulting someone for having an opposing opinion, only detracts from your argument. Pierre makes sense, for murder to be proven there MUST be intent. Surely, the victim should also have continued the treatment? Either way, its a horrible situation, but locking away one breadwinner, to compensate for the loss of another, is not going to make things right.

      march54 - 2012-09-03 08:32

      Please do not reduce this to a \colour\ thing. No where did I make mention of this. My comment was to point out that by not taking responsibility for completing prescribed treatment for a rabid dog bite the deceased man contributed to his death. I am aware by the time symptoms appear the patient's prognosis is almost zero. Poor compliance by Patient.

      themba.thwala.98 - 2012-09-03 08:55

      March, you did not make this a racial issues, but just happened to find contributory negligence on the part of the deceased. Yest you say nothing about the owner`s role? Tsk!tsk!tsk!

      themba.thwala.98 - 2012-09-03 08:55

      March, you did not make this a racial issues, but just happened to find contributory negligence on the part of the deceased. Yet you say nothing about the owner`s role?\r\nTsk!tsk!tsk!

      United.Red.Angel - 2012-09-03 10:05

      @Themba, your racism is disgusting and embarrassing. Please only comment if you have a worthwhile contribution to this argument.

      United.Red.Angel - 2012-09-03 11:34

      @Themba, I feel sorry for you. Your lack of intelligence and inability to argue with facts is sad. Maybe, instead of accusing every white person for being 'racist', you should spend your time getting to know people of all races, and stop being a racist yourself.

      jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-09-03 13:06

      Themba. Twala 98. You are not doing anyone a favour with your outbursts. If you want to insult whites, go stand on a streetcorner and do so.

      themba.thwala.98 - 2012-09-03 13:28

      Jacqui, I have not insulted whites generally, I have merely responded in kind to pretentious racists who spend their miserable little existence gathering on news24 every single day lying to each other and reminiscing about the “good old days”. I am therefore not going to any street corner, but you are welcome to do since this is your clever idea

      rick.kabose - 2012-09-03 13:43

      Sheesh.So much hostility folks. We do not know the colour of the accused,we don't know if the deceased was trespassing.Too many conclusions with so few facts.

      jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-09-03 13:43

      Themba Twale, I don't go on about whites, blacks and green people as you do so I have no need for the street corner. But hey, I like it that you found it a clever idea. I hope you have blown off enough steam for today.

      themba.thwala.98 - 2012-09-03 13:51

      Neither do I. Have you taken your medication today? Just now you`ll be blaming me for yourself induced heart attack

      United.Red.Angel - 2012-09-03 16:55

      Look at that Themba - news 24 deleted your abusive comments. You assume that all white people are racist - that's absurd and yet again proves your lack of intelligence. You claim that I'm racist, yet my boyfriend is coloured, and all of my best friends are black. I'm sorry that you live in a world where you find it possible to only associate with your own race, and where you hate every other race. You're missing out.

  • Adil Smit - 2012-09-03 00:22

    Condolences to the family. There seems to be several cases of rabies in KZN - have the vaccinations been done in all the communities?

  • Troy Fay - 2012-09-03 00:42

    according to the patients responsibilities set out in hpcsa guidelines, patients have a responsiblity to make sure revelent medications are taken. in this case, the onus should have been on him to ensure hospital visits. It is a shame that he died but the treatment was available. Further comment on murder chargers, i refraim to comment.

  • colin.taylor.9883 - 2012-09-03 01:39

    Its a sad situation... Any loss of a loved one will beg the question "why?", and who to blame... Logically you cant hold the dogs owner liable as he/she had no control over what animal with the rabies virus bit the dog... Having said that did the dog have its rabies vaccine before the incident and at the same time did the victim have access to a rabies vaccine shot before or access to medical help after the "bite"?. Once symptoms of rabies are present the chances of survival are VERY slim....

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-09-03 07:15

      But if the dog was not vaccinated, surely its the owners fault. If the owner had no access to the vaccine then the state vet dept is liable. Or if the victim had no access to treatment, again the state health dept has liability. Logically, humans are responsible for what happened here, and should be held accountable - the dog can't inject itself.

      themba.thwala.98 - 2012-09-03 09:02

      Colin the owner could have locked their gate or locked the dog inside the house or restrained it on a leash or taken it to a vet for treatment or handed it over to the SPCA ...

  • johannes.p.nel - 2012-09-03 04:47

    Why does this article show a picture of a dog in a tumble dryer?

  • brionyl.french - 2012-09-03 05:30

    I think that Charging someone with murder is a good idea. If you cant afford to do yearly shots for your pets then you shouldnt be allowed to have them. Thus it is the owners fault and thus they are responsible for any harm caused by there pets... Rabies or not...

      brendon.nel.7 - 2012-09-03 05:59

      True. But if he had gone for his follow up he would be alive today.

      lindibleu.nhlapo - 2012-09-03 09:46

      @ Brendon, I presume you have been to a state facility, right? do you think that the repercussions of not taking his meds were fully explained to him? I mean, be honest - how many times have you taken an antibiotic, felt better and sommer stopped? I have a friend who is a nurse, but open her fridge and you will find half finished antibiotics. I am not saying he was right, but few people stick to the course of their meds; not understanding the consequences thereof. as for the owner, he can only be charged with culpable homicide - in the same way as if his dog had killed someone - which technically, it did. and if your dog has rabies, why do you still have it in the yard? or worse, running around without you at the other end of the leash? shouldnt it be treated or put down?

      lorna.m.eaton - 2012-09-26 21:57

      South Africans are becoming far too "American". We are constantly looking for someone to blame, and someone to sue when things go wrong. The bottom line is that we are all responsible for the animals that share our planet. If there are unvaccinated dogs that get rabid, there will just be a denial of ownership. Mass education on animal care and the consequences of failing to vaccinate (people and animals)in general, and not only for rabies either. The media should be far more widely used for community education. Five minutes in every hour on all radio and TV stations ought to be given over to this purpose. Health, animal welfare, care of the environment and wildlife, road safety, hygiene, consideration for other communities - these are all subjects that could be addressed, and more. At present the media's full potential is wasted, particularly radio which is a platform for presenter's ego for the most part.

  • Chumscrubber1 - 2012-09-03 07:07

    I think manslaughter would be a more logical charge, I doubt the intent is to kill, its just gross irresponsibility not to have your pets vaccinated. I know a guy who's dogs are kept in a walled in environment and still got infected with rabies. Its impossible (or almost) to prevent your animals being bitten by a rabid animal, a rat with rabies could bite your dog - walls mean nothing. People always have excuses why they don't vaccinate their animals, its mostly just due to plain laziness. That and a state vetinary service that has severely deteriorated over the last couple of years. Everyone is responsible, including people who allow their dogs to fall pregnant and produce unwanted puppies - hence all the stray dogs. These poor strays should be taken out. Pet ownership comes with responsibility, this responsibility should be enforced by law.

  • gracemoremi - 2012-09-03 07:14

    but the son stopped going for treatment. now whose fault is that????

      smallies - 2012-09-03 07:51

      with out a doubt apartheid.....

  • cylvesta.tshungu - 2012-09-03 07:57

    The woman s justifyd in her actions.

  • Ze Don - 2012-09-03 08:23

    Sad as this is, the fact remains that he willingly stopped going for treatment. So effectively he killed himself. On a side note, will the owners of animals wondering around on the highway also be charged with murder?

  • tricia.sutherland1 - 2012-09-03 08:33

    i love my dogs, they are my babies BUT, i have them vaccinated as stipulated by law - there are too many neglected dogs walking around with diseases, especially in the impoverished areas, it is the private sector who do voluntary work mostly who go in and rescue these dogs, SPCA manages some. This lady should also, use this story to educate her community. Sad!

  • emmanuel.mohlaume - 2012-09-03 08:36

    Hello. Heita! Take care of yr dogs cos u might end up in jail 4 yr dog. Ya! Imagine the question:\r\nWhat r u in for?

  • marc.klynhans - 2012-09-03 08:46

    This is sad. Everyone who has AIDS and gives it to anyone else must also be charged with attempted murder or murder. You can just about make the same argument for any other disease. Who knows if the man bitten wasn't provoking the dog?

  • - 2012-09-03 09:08

    lucky for the dog it doesn't have any contractual capacity and unfit to stand trial

  • andrew.rutheford - 2012-09-03 10:11

    To all those saying you cannot charge with murder due to lack of intent. One can now charge someone with murder for a road death even without the intent to kill provided it can be proven that the person who caused the accident should forsee that his/her actions e.g. overtaking on a solid line, could cause the injury or death of other road users. A similar argument could be made against a dog owner not taking reasonable precautions to vaccinate his dog, especially if said dog was in contact with others

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-09-03 12:51

      Thanks for that - so basically the meaning of "murder" has changed somewhat? Certainly going to be a pretty grey area now.

  • Johan De Beer - 2012-09-03 10:34

    Then also charge the following with murder: Unlicenced drivers Owners of unroadworthy vehicles Drunk drivers People with AIDS having sex TB patients leaving hospital Parents of minors who commit murder Any rapist Etc etc. Dogs have to be licensed, right? Are all dogs in our towns and "settlements" licensed? Would it be difficult to follow up on whether licensed dogs have had its rabies vaccination?

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-09-03 12:54

      As far as I know there are no more dog licenses. People with AID's having unprotected sex without telling their partner of their status is an absolute case of murder, a rapist that does not kill has not comitted murder. Some of your eg's are a bit off dude.

      jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-09-03 13:18

      Johandebeer. Dog licences went out the window along time ago. In Cape Town registration of dogs have begun.

      johandebeer - 2012-09-03 17:51

      Chum, my examples were an attempt to ridicule the call for a murder charge. I know that some of them are off - that was the intention. Large fine - yes. Criminal charges - ok. But murder? Thats just unrealistic. What about stray dogs, meerkat, squirrels, bats, Malema? Those animals all carry rabies. Who are going to be charged with murder if they bite someone? The mayour ... the president? No, we should be careful to ensure that law serves the community, and not be a knee-jerk reaction to tragic incidents such as these. By the way - my dogs are all innoculated.

  • DuToitCoetzee - 2012-09-03 10:41

    People where the hell do you see colour in this? Maybe there were earlier reports that I d0 not know of? To me there are a few points that can be investigated. Was the dog vaccinated? How did the departed and the dog made contact. Was the owner present and did the owner and or departed insist on immediate treatment. Did the departed get ill information when treatment was started or was he just negligent with not completing the treatment. When all of these facts are known one can start making assumptions and look at charges.

      jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-09-03 13:19

      DuToit Coetzee, if the dog was vaccinated it wouldn't have had rabies.

  • johandebeer - 2012-09-03 17:53

    Government should use some of these taxes to fund the SPCA. That will solve a lot of these problems. To those shouting and pointing fingers - please contribute positively and support your local SPCA in the mean time.

  • samgaf - 2012-09-17 19:25

    Owners must be held responsible for their animals,you go girl and charge the F@@##ers.There is a law in legislation already,it is called ``Axione Noxales'' goes back 2000yrs B.C. Lawyers are too doff.

      theprof - 2013-03-21 12:50

      Googled the word axione noxales no match found

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