One of the vehicles that was set alight during the protest.
Durban - A businessman whose premises in Sea Cow Lake was trashed on Sunday by protesters who claimed his pit bulls had killed one of them, has denied the allegations.

The man, who owns a car maintenance business, said his dogs had merely sniffed the body of a dead man that had been lying opposite his premises in Peter Road on Thursday.

The protesters, from the Khulani informal settlement, had set fire to four privately-owned cars, a heavy duty truck, and an excavator. Five sports cars and 11 other vehicles were also damaged.

The man, who declined to be named and claimed he left the premises during the protest, said he had opened a case of malicious damage to property.

He said millions of rands in damage was caused.

A community leader from the settlement, Vusi Zulu, said they caused damage because the businessman refused to meet them.

“They wanted to speak to him to see if he planned on putting the dogs down or giving them to the SPCA,” said Zulu, who added this was not the first time the pit bulls had bit someone.

“People who walk past his premises fear they will be attacked.”

He said the businessman had lied that he was not at the premises during the protest. “He was hiding by the security and refused to come out.”

Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said that on Thursday, a man, aged 38, was allegedly bitten by dogs; and that an inquest docket was opened at Greenwood Park SAPS.

At 6am on Sunday, she said about 200 community members complained that the businessman’s dogs attacked the man.

“They allegedly set the building alight and damaged the forklift truck but the fire was swiftly doused. One of the protesters was injured by the forklift truck and taken to the hospital.

“Greenwood Park police and the Public Order Police arrested 12 suspects.

“They were charged with public violence.”

Sea Cow Lake (Ward 34) councillor Bobby Maharajh said: “I cannot accept that anything can be achieved with violence. Everyone should have sat down peacefully and discussed a way forward.”

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