Teachers and pupils at the Aris Grundschule outside Windhoek can hardly contain their grief, sorrow and pain.
They are battling to come to terms with the horrific way in which 13-year-old Fred Savage died over the past weekend during a vicious attack by two killer pit bulls in Otjomuise. The attack was filmed on a cellphone.
Savage, who was also known as Elvis Ochurub, has left a lasting impression on the people who became his family after he arrived at Aris Grundschule in January “with only one blanket”.
He may have been shy, but girls found him quite handsome, and he has been described as an outstanding learner.
His promising life was however, snuffed out this past weekend, when he was mauled to death by two vicious pit bulls in Otjomuise, sparking anger in the community, especially on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
An eyewitness said Savage was attacked while he walked past the house where the pit bulls live on Saturday afternoon.
“We are not just crying for the sake of crying. He was a very obedient boy, he would stand up and do something, even if someone else was supposed to do it,” said Savage’s class teacher Johannes Isak Haoseb.
Haoseb and his wife Elizabeth had taken Savage in and he shared a room with their son Trifos.
Yesterday, Haoseb could hardly speak without tears flowing down his cheeks.
“I remember how he used to water the plants. He would complain about the girls who liked him. He always asked me to tell two girls who liked him to forget about him and to take their eyes off him,” said Haoseb, as a little smile appeared through his tears. According to him, Savage was an extremely shy boy, but he had “danced like never before” during a music lesson last Wednesday afternoon.
“We had Bible study last Tuesday and I asked my son Trifos to pray for us, because he is the eldest but Elvis (Savage) just started praying fervently. He asked for forgiveness and protection for my family and I. It was almost as if he said farewell,” said Haoseb.
School principal Salomon Skrywer also remembered Savage as a child who never caused trouble.
“It is heartbreaking. He was an outstanding learner. He was diligent. He never backchatted. He hardly spoke, but he did everything he was asked to do,” said Skrywer.
Trifos, who regarded Savage as a brother after he moved in with them, said he loved football and his favourite team was Barcelona.
“That boy loved airplanes. He always said he will become a pilot one day,” Trifos said.He added that his friend had promised him he would take him to Windhoek to spend a weekend there.
Teachers at the school also registered their annoyance with the fact that fighter dogs like pit bulls are so readily available.
“That lady on television said these dogs are trained to fight and to hunt, so why are they selling them to people and not to fighting and hunting institutions?” asked an agitated teacher.
In the aftermath of the attack, many on Facebook called for justice and the owner of the dogs to be held accountable.
Others also called for the ban of dangerous dogs such as pit bulls in residential areas.
There are also allegations, that the dogs, who have since been put down, had attacked someone last month.
Police spokesperson Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi had earlier indicated that the owner of the dogs may be charged with culpable homicide if any negligence can be proven. He was reportedly in Rundu for the weekend when the incident took place.
Savage’s horrible death followed an incident in which a nine-year-old boy was hospitalised after being attacked by dogs in Walvis Bay late last year. Five dogs viciously mauled John West resulting in calls for tougher measures to control pets. The boy sustained multiple bite injuries during the attack.
Pit bull terriers are regarded as extremely dangerous and have therefore been banned in the United Kingdom.
According to Time magazine, pit bulls have been responsible for 68% of dog attacks and 52% of dog-related deaths since 1982.
This is according to a research compiled by Merritt Clifton, who is the editor of Animals 24-7, an animal news organisation that focuses on humane work and animal-cruelty prevention.
ARIS JEMIMA BEUKES