A man believed to be the bodyguard of the deputy mayor of Melmoth fires one of numerous rounds from an assault rifle into a dog which later died of its injuries.

Video footage of a dog being shot in Melmoth last year has since given way to allegations that a puppy was also shot and that a 9-year-old boy was cradling the animal in his arms when the shooter opened fire.

The NSPCA said in a statement on Wednesday that its investigations into the November footage - in which a man, thought to be the town’s deputy mayor, was seen encouraging the shooter, thought to be the deputy mayor’s bodyguard - revealed that four dogs were in fact shot.

Two of them were puppies.

“One of the puppies was in the hands of a 9-year-old boy and the shooter took the shot while (the puppy was) still in the hands of the young boy,” NSPCA spokesperson Meg Wilson said.

The graphic footage was widely circulated and according to Times Live, deputy mayor  Philani Ntombela confirmed to the website that it was him and his bodyguard in the footage and said the dog had been “terrorising” the locals and attacking their livestock.

He subsequently, however, denied this.

Ntombela declined to comment on Wednesday.

“We are absolutely overcome with devastation for these animals who have been failed by humans. The sheer disregard to their sentience is disturbing and to walk away showing absolutely no shame is unforgivable,” Wilson said in the statement. “In the midst of children, while one of the animals was in the hands of a child – It is inconceivable to think that this was the act of leadership” .

Wilson said the NSPCA had laid charges against the deputy mayor, the shooters and the owner.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane confirmed a case of animal cruelty at Melmoth police station but said no arrests had been made yet.