By Tladi Moloi
The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) has given Free State pitbull owners an ultimatum: hand over your dogs in five days or we will remove them ourselves.
Not so fast, says a member of the Bloemfontein pitbull community, Carmen Bester.
She has urged Sanco not to take good dogs from good owners.
“The story is heart-breaking. We love our dogs,” she said.
Bester was responding to the statement made by Tshepo Davids, the Sanco provincial spokesperson, who sent a warning that all pitbull owners in the Free State should voluntarily remove the dogs from the public within five days.
Despite there being no law against pitbull ownership in South Africa, Davids said they will embark on a street campaign to forcefully remove the controversial breed.
He said they are hoping to be working hand in hand with the SPCA, SAPS and community members.
If pitbull owners have not voluntarily handed in their dogs by Monday 28 November, Davids said Sanco will go to owners’ houses and confiscate the animals themselves.
He says that although SAPS have not yet been approached with the plan, he hopes they will accompany Sanco representatives.
This move comes after two children, the one aged eight from Bloemfontein and the other three years old from Hennenman, were both killed by pitbulls in recent weeks.
Davids said the pitbull issue has “become a pandemic” and as a community movement, Sanco wants to act to protect people.
“We have five days before we act. We would love it if people cooperated. We have people who have already started to hand over their dogs because they understand what we want to achieve,” he said.
Davids said there were those who said they would take Sanco to court should they take their pets forcefully.
“We are ready for any action. We knew there would be some violence in the process and legal action that might be taken against us but we are ready for that,” he said.
He said they are hoping to involve members of SAPS when they go to confiscate the dogs.
Maleke Moletsane, a 30-year-old from Kroonstad who owns two pitbulls, said he was against the idea of handing over his dogs.
“I bought those dogs to protect myself and my family. They have been nothing but loyal to us. I have had them for over 15 years and they have never bitten anyone. If the government takes them, they must give me the amount that I have spent on the dogs. By doing that, I wouldn’t mind getting another breed,” he said.
Reinet Meyer, the SPCA chief inspector in Bloemfontein, said they were not aware of the statement from Sanco but said they would make a plan to accommodate those dogs should that happen.
“After the two incidents in the Free State we asked the community to return the violent dogs which pose a danger to the community,” she said.
Lieutenant Colonel Thabo Covane, the SAPS Corporate Communication and Liaison at Mangaung Metro, said they were not aware of the Sanco drive.
Pictured above: A pit bull
Image source: @SouthAfrican