17 May 2017

South Africa: Blind Students Terrorised By Dog

Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane/GroundUp
Sibusiso Mbuyisa was bitten by a dog at the KZN Blind and Deaf Society.

After a recent attack by a dog on four blind students at KZN Blind and Deaf Society in Pietermaritzburg, boarders at the Northdale college say they live in fear. They say the dog belongs to the headmaster, Anand Naicker, who keeps it on the premises. Fourteen students board at the college.

A group of four students say the dog attacked them on 11 May. Thabani Mazibuko, 23, said the incident happened during supper time when they were on their way to the kitchen.

He said they did not provoke the dog in any way, since they are blind.

"While we were approaching the kitchen we heard the dog barking. We all got scared and we ran and pushed each other trying to run away from it ... We can't see ... We were running; the dog managed to grab my pants with its teeth. I screamed."

He said they fled to the kitchen. A female student was hurt in the crush to get inside.

Mazibuko said, "The problem is that we can't see and some of us are deaf. We are not safe here and this is not the first attack by the same dog. There have been other attacks and we have talked with Naicker, but he defends the dog and says it's a good dog ... We are appealing for help from anyone who can assist us and take this dog away."

In 2015, the dog attacked a former employee at the college, Mzo Sibiya, biting him on his leg.

Also in 2015, the dog attacked 24-year-old Sibusiso Mbuyisa. He was bitten on his left hand and lost the tip of one finger.

Mbuyisa is blind and deaf.

"To have him attacked by a dog in a space where he is supposed to be safe, is shocking," said his mother. "It doesn't make sense that an institution that keeps students with special needs can have a dog on its premises. His life will never be the same again in spite of the R37,000 that was paid to us [as compensation]. If it's cold, his hand pains."

Naicker cancelled an interview with GroundUp. In an SMS, he said: "Please note that this matter was referred to our society's head office by a staff member and head office referred the matter back to the Pietermaritzburg Board of Management for a full investigation to be undertaken. Until this matter is finalised I am unfortunately not in a position to make any comments at this stage. The Chairman of the Board of Management may comment after the investigation. Our scheduled meeting for Monday has to be cancelled until the matter has been addressed by the board."

Marian Channon, an inspector with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, (SPCA) said the organisation has contacted Naicker and he confirmed that he only has one small dog permanently in the house.

"He said the dog will be leaving the property to live with his family in Westville ... I informed him of the legal repercussions in the event charges are laid. According to him, there are also stray dogs that come into the property on occasion. I informed him that it is the responsibility of management to ensure the grounds staff repair the fences regularly," said Channon.

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