'Animal cruelty' principal says he loved his childhood dog

2015-11-24 16:18
Khayelitsha school principal Manono Makhaphela. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Khayelitsha school principal Manono Makhaphela. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town – As a boy, Manono Makhaphela had a little white dog of his own. He called it Taxi. Every night before he went to sleep he would cook food for the family dogs that protected the kraal.

He also looked after their cattle, chickens and goats.

Many wondered how the 45-year-old Khayelitsha school principal ended up being sentenced for animal cruelty by a Khayelitsha magistrate in 2013.

He was fined R6 000 or had to go to jail for six months, half of which was suspended for five years on condition that he institute an animal awareness programme at his school.

The Khayelitsha Magistrate's Court heard that in 2011 Makhaphela instructed two staff members to bury a stray dog alive because it was apparently a nuisance.

The dog was rescued from its 1.5m hole after 20 minutes. Warrior was renamed Lily when she was adopted.

Makhaphela spoke softly and avoided eye contact at first when interviewed by News24 on Tuesday.

He said he “regretted” what happened and was not “proud of it” but did not want to go back to that day in October 2011.

Slowly he opened up about his childhood in rural Kentani in the Eastern Cape.

‘When died, I cried’

“As a boy, I had my own dog. I had a white dog called Taxi and when he died, I cried. I could not accept that he died,” he said, gripping his coffee mug. “That became a story... told in the family – that 'you cried when your dog died'.”

He was responsible for ensuring the family dogs were looked after.

“You cook for them every day before you sleep, otherwise your father will be angry with you. One thing for sure that I was missing from that kind of experience, was to see somebody else’s dog.”

Pausing to find the right words, he said: “You are born like that in the rural areas. You take care of only what belongs to your own family.”

His eyes lit up as he described how much his perspective on life had changed since an awareness programme at his school.

Every now and then he looked to his right at Louise van der Merwe, founder of the Humane Education Trust.

Van der Merwe secured funding to ensure he and his staff attended environmental ethics workshops at the school last month.

Instituting the programme was a condition of his sentence.

'Great help'

He really enjoyed the module on bullying and stress. It made him realise some “destructive” pupils were not uncontrollable.

“They are undergoing their own stress. Some of the things I have tried through guidance have been of great help.”

His three children “talked a lot” about dogs. He was waiting for the day they wanted one of their own. Last week one of them spotted a dog while they were driving and mimicked the barking.

“And then I also did the same thing,” he said, chuckling. “I just wondered if someone listening from the outside would have been able to distinguish between the noises.”

Jane Levinson was a project manager at the nearby Mdzananda Animal Clinic at the time of the incident. She attended many of the principal’s court appearances.

She said she was “delighted” that something positive had come out of the situation.

Read more on:    cape town  |  animal abuse  |  animals

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