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“If I had been a minute later, he might have been killed,” says rider

A cyclist in South Africa has spoken of how he used his bicycle to fend off a pair of Rottweiler dogs that were mauling a 13-year-old boy, saying afterwards, “If I had been a minute later, he might have been killed.”

Angelo Vangelis Eleftheriou, aged 65, was out for a Sunday afternoon bike ride from his home in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal, reports News24.com.

The website says that 13-year-old Lethokuhle Mabasa was returning home from the shops with friends when two Rottweilers jumped a fence and attacked him.

One of the dogs reportedly had gripped the youngster by the ankle and was dragging him into bushes when Mr Eleftheriou came across the incident on his bike.

“I have lived in Howick for 34 years and I have been cycling for 15 years,” he said.

“In all my years in town, I had never cycled that route before. But that afternoon, I just decided to cycle down Prospect Road.

“I saw three young guys and a small boy with two dogs. At a distance it looked like they were playing but as I got closer, I saw one of the dogs had latched on to the small boy’s hip.

“The dog pulled him down to the ground. I did not have anything on me except my bicycle so I started hitting the dogs with it to get them to let go of Lethokuhle.

“The other dog then went for Lethokuhle’s neck and I managed to get the bike between us and the dogs.

“I started calling for help, and one of the young guys brought a stick. He stood at a distance, hitting the dog, because he was nervous, but I told him to get closer.

 “The dogs were trying to pull him into the bush and I was holding the bicycle and so was Lethokuhle. He was very brave.”

It took 15 minutes to get the dogs away from the teenager.

 “When you see something like that happen, you don’t think,” Mr Eleftheriou continued.

“I just did what I did. After, I thought about it and knew that if I had not helped and the boy had died and I lived, it would replay in my head for the rest of my life.

“You either run away or jump into the fire. Lethokuhle was very brave and strong. He fought for his life.

“Once the dogs had gone he kept saying he was going to die and I told him he was not going to die because the two of us were together,” he added.

The incident has been reported to police and the dogs given up to a local animal protection charity.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.