Cabinet minister finally agrees to accept 139,000 signature petition seeking ban
CAPE TOWN, South Africa––Olga Grill, 88, of Bonteheuwel, South Africa, would have celebrated her 89th birthday on April 4, 2023.
Instead, Grill on March 28, 2023 “was mauled by a neighbor’s two pit bulls when they jumped over a makeshift boundary wall between their yards,” reported multimedia journalist Mthuthuzeli Ntseku for the Cape Argus.
“In search of his mother’s right foot”
“When the Cape Argus arrived at the Grills’ residence,” Mthuthuzeli Ntseku added, “her 68-year-old son, Graham Woodman, was combing through the weeds in the backyard in search of his mother’s right foot.
“Woodman said he had left in search of casual work before four a.m.,” Mthuthuzeli Ntseku continued, leaving his mother still asleep.”
Olga Grill was apparently killed beneath her clothes line while either hanging out laundry to dry or taking in clothing that had already dried.
Fear of crime
The Bonteheuwel community was formed in 1948 by “colored” and “black African” residents of Cape Town who were forced out of the city when the South African government established in law the policy of racial segregation called “apartheid.”
Bonteheuwel is now a crime-plagued city of nearly 60,000 people.
Fear of crime may have contributed to Olga Grill’s death, Mthuthuzeli Ntseku indicated.
“The dog’s owner, Shafieka du Plooy, 23 – who has vowed not to keep dogs again – described the female and male pit bulls as ‘nice,’” Mthuthuzeli Ntseku reported.
“Du Plooy said the gate between the two yards was usually opened between 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and closed at 9:00 a.m.,” wrote Mthuthuzeli Ntseku.
First pit bull fatality in 87 days
When exactly Olga Grill was attacked by the two pit bulls is unclear.
Du Plooy told Mthuthuzeli Ntseku that he could not say what could have triggered the attack, insisting that his pit bulls had never been aggressive, had never been chained, and had not been leashed when in public spaces.
Olga Grill was the first South African pit bull fatality in 87 days, following the January 7, 2023 death of former international soccer star Philemon Mulala, 60, at his home in Lichtenburg on January 7, 2023. Mulala was killed by his own three dogs: two pit bulls, plus a smaller dog of unknown breed.
(See Soccer hero Philemon Mulala is latest South African pit bull victim.)
Victims during interlude were lucky
But South African pit bulls were not well-behaved during the 87-day interlude so much as their victims were lucky.
Among the victims was a 26-year-old woman in Kuils River, near Cape Town, who was reportedly “severely mauled” by multiple pit bulls on January 21, 2023 while walking past the Penhill Estate, an upscale tourist lodge, apparently on her way home from work at about four p.m.
Olga Grill was at least the 42nd pit bull victim among the 56 known dog attack victims in South Africa since 2004.
Seventy-eight pit bulls participated in the 42 pit bull fatalities.
Four fatalities were by dogs of unknown breed.
Five Boerboels, four German shepherds, three Rottweilers, and one Labrador retriever accounted for the 14 other fatal attacks.
(See South African dog attack deaths, 2004-present.)
Cabinet minister agrees to quit playing hide-&-seek with petitioners
Pit bulls killed Olga Grill just five days after agriculture, land reform and rural development minister Thoko Didiza at least agreed on March 23, 2023 to accept a 139,000 signature petition seeking a national ban on breeding and keeping pit bulls, compiled during the last three months of 2022 by the Sizwe Kupelo Foundation, formed by firefighter Sizwe Kupelo.
Kupelo has been trying to deliver the petition to Thoko Didiza since December 2022.
Recounted Times Live senior reporter Nivashni Nair, “In an email sent to the foundation’s founder Dr. Sizwe Kupelo, Didiza’s chief of staff Moloiwa Phosa said the matter had been brought to the minister’s attention.
“Didiza has the authority to promulgate new regulations in terms of the Animal Protection Act. Kupelo urged her to ensure the petition, which was started two months ago, was taken to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the cabinet for discussion, and to the National Assembly for action.”
Recent Times Live polling data suggests that about 61% of the South African population favors a national pit bull ban, while another 17% favor stricter regulation of pit bulls.
As an activist and former state humane officer, I sure wish people would get as outraged by the dog fighters, the breeders, and the horrific abuse and torture that is visited upon these dogs. It is heinous, but very, very few people care about that because they’re only interested in #1, “I Me, Mine”
I remember being asked by a humane group to remove some “pit” bulls from a local impound (they can’t really be called “shelters”) because the low IQ staff were doing inhumane things that I don’t want to repeat, as I don’t want to ever give anyone ideas. In each case, the kennel workers warned me about going in with the dogs, and in each case I saw dogs who were frightened of the kennel workers. And boy, were those dogs happy to see me. They knew I was different. And they couldn’t wait to get out of that hell hole.
Once out of there, one of them, (who had whip mark scars across his back) stepped out in front of me, turned around, stood up on his hind legs, and put his front paws on me. I leaned over, and he started giving me kisses. I knew he was thanking me. I was vigilant about helping find responsible homes with people who know how to handle what sick, twisted people have ‘created’ to satisfy their own blood lust and gambling propensities. And one reason we don’t see dog fighting vanquished is because there are judges, politicians, chiefs of police, etc., involved.
That said, I think that breeding of dogs by people should cease. Feral dogs can be rescued and cared for. And feral dogs appear to be a lot smarter about breeding themselves. When stupid and corrupt people get involved, innocent animals (and people) always pay the price.
Merritt and Beth Clifton says
Sue Marston, in case you have not noticed, four of the five wealthiest animal advocacy organizations in the U.S. and the two biggest in Britain––that’s the Humane Society of the U.S., the Best Friends Animal Society, the American SPCA, Maddie’s Fund, the Royal SPCA, and Dogs Trust––have for nearly 20 years thrown their cumulative budgets of more than $750 million a year behind promoting pit bull adoptions, overturning breed-specific legislation that protects all other animals and the human public, and whitewashing pit bull history and behavior, all in the name of stopping “the dogfighters, the breeders, and the horrific abuse and torture that is visited upon these dogs,” while pit bull proliferation continues to make dogfighting more prevalent than ever before, pit bull breeders profit more than ever before, and whatever “horrific abuse and torture” that pit bulls suffer––which, is to be sure, considerable––is still just a fraction of the harm pit bulls & their owners visit upon other animals & people.
Meanwhile no major organization anywhere stands up for the victims. Pit bull victims over this time include well over half a million other animals killed, another half million (mostly smaller dogs) badly injured, and more than 600 human beings killed, nearly 6,000 disfigured, in the U.S. alone.
It is long past time to turn off the alligator tears for pit bulls & turn on some sympathy for the authentic innocent victims, animal and human, who have mostly merely had the misfortune to be near a pit bull who “went pit bull” in response to no provocation visible to anyone else.
I think I was saying the same thing, only with more sympathy for the dogs. They did not invent themselves, and “humans” are always at the root of the problem.
And, as you can see, all those alleged efforts to stop the dog fighting and the breeders went absolutely nowhere. But those big high profile groups get very wealthy talking the talk, even if they don’t walk the walk.
Jamaka Petzak says
THANK YOU, Merritt and Beth, for every article chronicling the terror, senseless maimings and killings, tragedies and absolutely senseless, unjustifiable, and just plain WRONG destruction these dangerous dogs wreak around the world in every society where they are allowed to continue to proliferate and where apologists and advocates for them continue to obstruct efforts by those who are aware of, and who oppose, this travesty.
Sharing, with gratitude and all of the usual thoughts and emotions.
HOW MANY MORE innocent people and members of other species have to live maimed, or have their lives taken???
Elizabeth and Merritt Clifton says
Well said Jamaka! Thank you!!
Annoula Wylderich says
Sue and Merritt, you are both correct and, I can see, on the same page. Both the breed and the victims suffer because of agendas that do not benefit either. I’ve just learned of yet another small dog that was minding it’s own business when a neighbor’s pit bull attacked him – unprovoked. And just last week, I observed so many pit bulls sitting forlornly at the local shelter, where they aren’t getting adopted quickly enough. They’ll end up getting put down or warehoused indefinitely by a rescue at some substandard boarding facility – and that can be a life worse than death. If we haven’t seen any significant relief or resolutions for either side, it’s time to reconsider how we’re approaching the problem. Even the pit bull advocates would have to agree.