Monkey beating sparks protest

2011-09-24 00:00

THE recent killing of a monkey at of the University of KwaZulu-Natal Westville sparked a protest at the campus yesterday among students, animal rights activists and other concerned people.

There was national outcry after a group of five students staying at the university reportedly chased and beat a vervet monkey to death with sticks after it had apparently crept into the communal kitchen.

The bloodcurdling screams of the animal were reportedly heard by the entire block. One of the students involved in the killing is a final year environmental student.

The students apparently closed a corridor window to prevent the monkey from escaping and then followed it into the kitchen, where they beat it.

They wrapped the body in a blanket and took it to a field on the campus where they laid it on the grass.

The monkey tried to crawl away, but looked as though it had a broken spine. The group continued beating it reportedly “until it was dead”.

Now the university claims that the monkey was not in fact killed, but that the injured animal managed to escape.

University spokesperson Nomonde Mbadi said that two of three witnesses assumed that the monkey was dead after the beating, but that a campus security guard stated it had been beaten but not killed.

Steve Smit, founder and co-ordinator of Monkey Helpline, said the suspects are known to police and that arrests are imminent.

He expressed disappointment at what he called the university’s lackadaisical attitude about bringing the perpetrators to book.

A mixed bag of protesters lined up along the road to the entrance of the university with placards expressing their outrage at the incident.

“The incident is indicative of the intolerance and brutal nature of some people, it’s a minority of people who would feel nothing about snuffing the life out of a harmless creature,” said Smit.

He said the body of the monkey has not been found and there are rumours the students have eaten it.

Smit said vervet monkeys are misunderstood.

“We must be reminded that it is people who are encroaching on their habitat,” he said.

He said thge university management has been co-operative, but not fully.

In a statement this week management said it will treat the issue with the seriousness it deserves.Smit says this implies it hasn’t started an investigation yet.

The UKZN claims that the students responsible are remorseful, and that the one student didn’t think that what he was doing constituted cruelty to animals.

SPCA spokesperson Caroline Smith vowed that the SPCA will do everything in its power to make sure the students are punished appropriately. “The Animal Protection Act allows for a sentence of up to three years’ imprisonment or a fine of R60 000 for cruelty against animals,” she said.

The incident is not the first case of animal cruelty at the university. In 2005 the pet cat of a campus security chief’s family was cooked in a microwave oven belonging to students.

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