Justice still eludes boy savaged by dogs
For an 11-year-old boy from Sethosa Street, Joodse Kamp in Knysna who was almost mauled to death by two dogs on 21 March this year, justice seems to be out of reach, says his mother, as more than seven months after his attack there has been no progress on the case opened against the owners of the animals.
On 15 November, at her home, the frustrated Melonie Philander told KPH how helpless she feels that her son, Thehano Daman, will probably never see justice for what has happened to him. “I’ve only received feedback from the investigating officer (IO) after begging her for it. Nobody has been arrested, and we still haven’t received a court date. On top of that I have been sent from one person to the other but still have no answers on the progress of the case,” Philander said.
‘You can go report me’
KPH numerous unanswered messages to the IO enquiring about the progress of the case, and on the very few occasions she did receive feedback, Philander feels it was with “attitude” and very unhelpful. “When I told the IO I would go to the station commander on 21 June, she defiantly said, ‘You can go report me’. I am aware that Lieutenant Colonel Kahn of the Knysna police also called the IO about the case but nothing happened that I know of. Months later, on 20 September when I threatened to go to the media, the IO just said my docket was in for a decision and that her side is clean. How can it take more than seven months for a case to be investigated?” the angry mother wanted to know.
Philander said that, according to the IO’s messages, only the dog owner’s wife’s statement was needed on 23 July before it would be sent to the senior prosecutor. “But that didn’t happen,” she added.
Nine operations, more to follow
In the meantime, said Philander, Thehano – who has already gone through nine different operations and will be heading back to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town in January and March 2019 for two further procedures – has developed a fear for dogs in general, and now relies on a brace to support his damaged leg.
“When he is outside the yard and sees a dog he immediately comes inside. He watches this karate on television and then says he will ‘sommer klap’ (hit) any dog that comes near him. Even worse, he can’t play any sport and with December coming he really wants to swim, but has become shy around people because of his terrible scars. When he goes outside he even wears long pants,” Philander said.
“All I want is justice for my child. I can’t just let this case go. If I did I wouldn’t be a proper mother. This IO seems to have no respect for me or Thehano, and thinks nothing of what happened to him,” Philander added.
Investigation ‘at an advanced stage’
According to police spokesperson Sergeant Chris Spies, although no arrests have yet been made, the investigation into the matter is at an advanced stage. Spies said the case docket was submitted to the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision, but that before a final decision could be made on whether to prosecute or not, the “investigation officer was advised to obtain additional statements”.
Regarding Philander’s allegations of the IO’s attitude and lack of feedback, Spies said station management has taken note of the allegations of unprofessional conduct, adding that “it is expected of every police official to ensure that victims of crime are treated with respect and dignity at all times”. He said further that it is also expected of “investigation officers” to provide regular feedback to victims of crime with regard to the progress of the investigation.
“Unprofessional conduct should be reported immediately to ensure that matters are addressed amicably,” Spies said, adding that “the complainant” is more than welcome to visit the office of the station commander to address the concerns with regards to this investigation.
A question regarding the length of time it has taken to complete the investigation was left unanswered at the time of going to print.
* After the incident, the dogs were euthanised by the Knysna Animal Welfare Society, and a case of attempted murder was opened against the owner.
Cyril Philander (left), Thehano Daman, and Melonie Philander.
The state of Thehano Daman’s scarred legs at present. He will be undergoing two further medical procedures in 2019.