Scouts ordered to pay N$2m over dog attack on child

The Scouts of Namibia youth movement must pay N$2,2 million to the mother of a boy who was severely injured when he was attacked by a vicious dog on the premises of the organisation four years ago, a judge has ordered in the Windhoek High Court.

Judge Orben Sibeya made the order after finding, in a judgement delivered on Friday, the Scouts organisation was aware that a pit bull terrier was present on Scouts premises at Tsumeb and that the organisation failed to ensure the dog was securely enclosed so that he could not do harm to children visiting the premises.

Sibeya also found the Scouts had a duty of care towards an eight-year-old boy who was severely and permanently injured when he was attacked by the dog on 7 February 2020.

The boy’s scalp and left ear were ripped off by the dog, which persisted with its attack on the boy until police officers who had been summoned to the scene killed the animal by shooting it.

The boy was hospitalised for more than two months while he received a skin graft to replace his scalp and went through surgical procedures to reconstruct part of his face.

The dog had been under the control of a scout trainer, Desmond Mandjalo, who was living at the premises where the boy was attacked.

The boy’s mother sued the Scouts of Namibia and Mandjalo for N$2,2 million, consisting of a claim of N$1 million for trauma, pain and suffering, N$500 000 for medical treatment, N$200 000 for the permanent loss of the boy’s left ear and N$500 000 for loss of future earning potential.

During the hearing of her claim, the Scouts of Namibia’s chief scout, Jim Kastelic, insisted the organisation was not aware of the presence of a vicious dog at the premises at Tsumeb and therefore could not have taken any reasonable steps to prevent the attack from happening.

Kastelic also said he previously became aware that Mandjalo had a dog at the premises and he then asked Mandjalo to remove the canine from there.

Mandjalo told the court the pit bull terrier that carried out the attack had been placed in his care by a friend in January 2020.

He said children attending scouts training at the premises were warned about the presence of a vicious dog, which he said he kept locked up.

However, the court also heard that on the day of the attack the dog was not locked up, but had been left in a house with a burglar door that was not locked, having been closed with a hook instead.

Sibeya found that, except for Kastelic, other people at the premises knew about the presence of the dog at least a week before the attack.

The probabilities of the evidence before him established that the Scouts of Namibia knew of the presence of the pit bull terrier at the premises the organisation was using at Tsumeb, Sibeya said.

The organisation and Mandjalo owed a duty of care to the boy to ensure the dog was locked away in an enclosure, but failed to protect children visiting the premises for scouts training by not securely enclosing the animal, Sibeya also found.

The Scouts of Namibia denied that it was liable over the attack, but did not dispute the quantity claimed by the boy’s mother.

Sibeya also ordered that Mandjalo must pay N$70 000 in general damages to the boy’s mother.

The plaintiff was represented by legal counsel James Diedericks, instructed by Boris Isaacks.

Lawyer Nafimane Halweendo represented the Scouts of Namibia, while Mandjalo did not have legal representation.

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