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Dog attack evokes pain of the past

Selina Kokolosi before she was attacked by three pitbulls. Picture: Supplied

Selina Kokolosi before she was attacked by three pitbulls. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 7, 2022

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Durban - Physical degradation through dog attacks, lashing, and shackling remain fixed in historical memories of the less powerful.

During the darkest period of South Africa, perhaps the most terrifying and effective tool for disciplining a “disobedient” black person and dominating their space was the use of dogs.

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Disturbingly, the pattern of this inhumane behaviour continues to prevail long after democracy, as stories of employers’ dogs attacking and savaging domestic workers, helpers and gardeners at their place of work, emerge, triggering the painful historical memories of dog attacks during the hardest, inhumane period of slavery and apartheid.

On Monday, the country woke up to another horrific front-page article with disturbing images of a recovering woman who was mauled by three pit bulls at the home of her employers in Potchefstroom. Like wild dogs eating their prey alive, neighbours watched helplessly as the three pit bulls sat on top of the 47-year-old Selina Kokolosi, ripping off her thighs, hands, nose, lips, ears, and completely reconfiguring her face. Kokolosi was lucky the dogs did not rip through her stomach.

Although she rejoined her family after spending weeks in hospital, she lives through the horror as she struggles to adjust to her new life. In the words of her nephew, Tebogo Kokolosi, the incident has brought trauma to the family and the nation at large.

Kokolosi told of how the dogs’ owners never bothered to show remorse nor visit her in hospital after their dogs horrifically mauled her.

In spite of her bosses underpaying Kokolosi – a monthly salary of R1 000 over three years – Chandre van der Linde and her partner Marno Moster refused to take responsibility and assist Kokolosi in paying medical bills.

When Kokolosi was fighting for her life at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Van der Linde continued with her life as if nothing had happened and continuously posted pictures of her dogs with the caption “I love you”. While her bosses have seemingly closed her chapter and moved on without any accountability, it is not yet “uhuru” for Kokolosi as she faces a long, painful and costly surgical recovery process and a grim future as the chances of her getting other employment and supporting her family remain very slim.

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