Gone ... Fred Savage (13) died from injuries sustained during the attack.
It was supposed to be a normal weekend away from the school hostel, which included playing with friends in the streets of the neighbourhood.

Yet it ended in death for 13-year-old Fred Savage on Saturday afternoon, when two aggressive pit bull terriers ripped him apart in full view of other people.

Neighbours in Otjomuise's extension four rushed to the scene after hearing the chilling cries of a young boy at about 15h50, but they could only watch in horror as the boy was bitten to death by, ironically, what is supposed to be man's best friend.

The Grade 5 pupil at Aris Primary School from Agste Laan in Otjomuise, was playing in the street with two friends when the enraged dogs charged at them and attacked him.

The boy's relatives, who described him as a "sweet and helpful young boy", say he was visiting home for the weekend from the school hostel.

"He had gone out with his friends for the afternoon, but they [the friends] returned home to report that he had been attacked by two savage dogs. We did not think it was serious at first and we went searching for him at Katutura Hospital," said Fred's aunt Michelle Ochurus.

She said they went from hospital to hospital searching for him and were told the bad news by police officers at the Katutura Police Station at around 23h00 on Saturday evening.

The family said they are not blaming the dog owners for the tragedy, as they believe it could not have been intentional.

"Only God knows. But they should know better than to leave such dangerous dogs alone and unattended in the yard," said Ochurus.

Apparently neighbours of the dog owners told the family that this was not the first time the dogs had attacked people. "We were informed that the same dogs also bit a construction worker who was passing by the house, before."

The boy's mother Alta Christa Ochurus, a single mother of eleven, is still reeling from the shock. Savage was her seventh child.

Police spokesperson Edwin Kanguatjivi, who confirmed the incident yesterday, said Savage was attacked as he was riding his bicycle in Stockholm Street.

Witnesses said two of the boys managed to flee while the dogs attacked Savage, pinning him to the ground and mauling him.

"Everyone was too scared to do anything to stop the dogs. They were just shouting as they were afraid of coming near the dogs and just stood watching helplessly from a distance. It was horrible," said a neighbour, Obed Mutabani.

Mutabani who lives across the street from where the dogs attacked the boy, believes that had he arrived on the scene earlier, he might have been able to save the boy. Mutabani said he heard a noise outside his house and rushed out to investigate what was happening, and he saw the two dogs aggressively tearing at the boy like he was a piece of meat.

"Two young men got out of a white vehicle and tried to help him, but quickly ran back to the safety of their car when one of the vicious dogs turned on them. It was a matter of life and death and meant risking your own life if you went over to help. One of the young men was bitten on the ankle," he said.

Mutabani said he ran to his house and grabbed a shotgun to try and scare the dogs away.

"It is not easy firing at a moving target," he said, adding that he had fired three shots at the dogs that left them injured, but they still would not let go of their victim.

He also said some neighbours tried protecting the injured boy by parking their cars over his body but the dogs did not back down.

Paramedics arrived by ambulance and tried to resuscitate the boy, but he was pronounced dead at the scene and the City Police were forced to shoot the dogs when they arrived.

When The Namibian visited the scene yesterday, dry blood patches close to the yard were the only remaining evidence of the attack, while the house remained quiet, with no sign of life.

Neighbours told The Namibian that the dogs had been left unattended while the owners went to Rundu for the weekend.

"I looked around the yard and noticed there was no sign that the dogs had been given anything to eat. They must have been hungry," said another neighbour, Malua Malua.

Malua believes the fence around the yard was not properly erected and the dogs managed to open a hole in the fence and escape. The Namibian could not contact the dog owners by the time of going to print yesterday.

Another eyewitness, who declined to be named, said he could not sleep afterwards as images of the young boy were still flashing through his mind.

"He was literally ripped apart. We could see his spine and there was a huge gap on the side of his neck. It was terrible," he said. He believes the dogs were provoked.

Eyewitnesses also said the first group of police officers who came to the scene were not armed.

"They just sat in their cars doing nothing," he said.

Mutabani said what happened on Saturday will remain in the minds of the onlookers for a very long time. "There were small children who saw what happened and those children might need counselling," he said.

Neighbours claimed many people in the Otjomuise neighbourhood owned dogs because the neighbourhood was not safe.

"This is not a safe neighbourhood. There are robberies occurring regularly and people own dogs to protect their property, but people must know how to take care of pit bull terriers and not leave them unattended," said Mutabani.