Durban – An angry mob of about 200 people caused damage – estimated at millions of rand – to a car-modifying business in Peters Road, Sea Cow Lake, on Sunday. This followed allegations that a man was killed by dogs kept on the family business premises on Friday morning.
Khulani informal settlement residents in the area went on the rampage at about 6am and broke into the workshop, setting at least four cars on fire before breaking into another section of the workshop and damaging about 16 more vehicles belonging to customers.
“This has been the third attack in recent months and nothing happened to those dogs,” said an informal resident who only identified himself as Vusi.
“People from this settlement walk past this business to access the Springfield area and these dogs somehow find their way out of the yard and chase pedestrians. The man who was attacked on Friday died of his wounds. The police are aware of this and nothing is done.”
He said lack of action from the authorities fuelled the people’s anger, especially after Friday’s incident.
When the Daily News visited the business premises, there was no sign of any dogs.
Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele could not confirm Friday’s incident and said she could only inquire about it from the investigators today.
She confirmed the protesters had been complaining about dogs that attacked them when they walked past the premises.
Mbele said the premises and vehicles, including trucks and a forklift, were set alight. One of the protesters was injured by the forklift truck and taken to hospital.
“The Greenwood Park police … arrested eight suspects and they will be charged with public violence. They will appear in court soon,” she said.
The Durban and Coast SPCA confirmed receipt of a report about a pit bull in one of the “truck yards” in the area and that the dog had mauled a man.
Caroline Smith, the Durban and Coast SPCA’s spokesperson, said yesterday: “On investigating, our officers could not locate the dog at the premises in question. Our officers will go out to the area again to search for the dog."
The business owner, who asked not to be named, said allegations that his dog had killed a person were malicious. He confirmed that a man was found dead on the other side of the business premises, and that his dog had sniffed him.
“My dog is not vicious. The man had what looked like panga wounds and because my dog, a bedroom dog, had sniffed the man doesn’t mean he mauled him,” said the businessman.
He said damage to his business amounted to millions of rand.
In one section of the workshop, four cars were burnt. In another section, five sports cars were damaged. He said all the cars belonged to clients.
Across the road from the premises, a heavy-duty truck with an excavator on top was also burnt.
The businessman said the two machines were worth about R3 million.
“I have opened a case with the police. When this happened, I was in Pietermaritzburg so there was nothing I could do to save the family business. The metro police did their best to stop the mob,” he said.
Metro police spokesperson Parboo Sewpersad said they charged the arrested group with public violence.
Sea Cow Lake (Ward 34) councillor Bobby Maharajh said the destruction of private property was not a way to resolve issues. He said that some of the destroyed property did not belong to the targeted business.