Dog grabbed deceased child by the throat

Toddler shaken ‘like a rag doll’ by pitbull

Distraught witnesses describe horror attack which claimed life of little Reuben le Roux

Bennie le Roux, 42, is the father of 15-month-old Reuben le Roux.
IN SHOCK: Bennie le Roux, 42,  is the father of 15-month-old Reuben le Roux.
Mother Merieke van der Nescht with her son Reuben le Roux, aged 15 months.
TRAGIC END: Mother Merieke van der Nescht with her son Reuben le Roux, aged 15 months.

People have described the horror of seeing a toddler seized by the throat by a pitbull on Wednesday on a Gonubie smallholding in East London, Eastern Cape, and "shaken like a rag doll".

The baby, 15-month-old Reuben le Roux, later died of his injuries at Frere Hospital. 

The owner of the dog, Noleen Fourie, desperately tried to free little Reuben after the pitbull, Whisky, had lunged for the baby’s throat and dragged him 3m across her yard.

It has now emerged that in the past year, the animal had killed two other dogs.

Fourie said she will have Whisky put down. 

The call for a ban of pitbulls in SA is getting louder.

A petition by the Sizwe Kupelo Foundation to ban the breed as a domestic animal had reached more than 120,000 signatures before the news broke of the horror attack on Reuben at Hollows Farm. 

Reuben’s mother Maryke van der Mescht, 37, was devastated by the attack, but said the six-year-old dog had never before shown signs of aggression during their weekly visits to the nearby Van der Nescht property. 

Through sobs, Van der Nescht said: “I’m broken. Every time I visited Noleen before the dog had never done anything to my baby ... yesterday was the first time. The dog was by the washing line and I was sitting around the corner on the steps feeding the baby.

“The dog was barking at other dogs and getting angry. Then it sped around the corner and grabbed my baby by the neck. I was screaming the whole time, ‘Help, help!’ and everybody was coming out to see what was happening.  

“Noleen took us to the ambulance depot and the depot was taking too long. Reuben was still bleeding, it was taking so long ... When my baby was taken to the hospital his heart stopped.”

The child’s father, Benny le Roux, 42, said he could not forgive Fourie or his wife, whom he blamed for the child’s death.

Fourie, 65, said she had rescued Whisky in 2020. The dog had been confined to a small veranda his whole life.  

“I don’t know if I should blame myself for it or if it’s just God’s will that he wanted the baby home,”  Fourie said.

Fourie said that the dog had attacked two other dogs earlier this year, one of which had run on to her property. “He’s never been aggressive to me but he’s already killed two dogs on the farm."

Neighbour Martin Williams, 64, who witnessed the attack, said that neighbours had raised safety concerns after the dog killed two dogs four months ago.

He said: “Van der Nescht’s baby was in front of her and the next minute that dog grabbed him around the throat, and threw him like a rag doll ... lifted the baby right up. It was quick, it didn’t make any noise. If Fourie hadn’t held the dog it would’ve just carried on.”

Police confirmed that the child died at the Frere Hospital on Wednesday evening and that an investigation was continuing.


Noleen Fourie, 65, is the owner of the pit bull that killed Reuben le Roux.
DOG OWNER: Noleen Fourie, 65, is the owner of the pit bull that killed Reuben le Roux.

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