Mahlangu and another v Minister of Police (1393/2018) [2020] ZASCA 44 (21 April 2020)
May 28, 2020
October 19, 2020

In the case of Cloete v Van Meyeren, the Plaintiff instituted action against the Defendant claiming R2 341 000.00 in damages arising from an attack upon him by three pitbull-type dogs

The Defendant initially placed an issue whether his dogs were those that attacked Plaintiff, pleading that his dogs were kept behind locked gates, their access to the road being impossible under normal circumstances and that if Defendant’s dogs were responsible for the attack, they had escaped as an intruder attempted to break open the front door of the house and did in fact break the gates which were supposed to restrict the movement of the dogs.

The court concluded the following, there was no fault on the Plaintiff who was an entirely innocent passer-by lawfully present on the adjacent public road. Reliance on the negligence of a third party was raised as a complete defence this being that the intruder who left the gates open. It was raised that there are no facts present in this matter, pleaded or proved, bringing into operation the concept that culpable conduct of  third party causing a domesticated animal to act contra naturam exonerates the owner from pauperian liability, for example, where the third party provoked the animal by hitting or wounding same.

The court found that the defence fails and the Plaintiff’s claim on the merits succeeds in pauperian liability, in which the Defendant was held liable for Plaintiff’s damages caused by and arising from the dog attack upon him.

The full case can be read here: