'Animals deserve life', says principal sentenced for animal cruelty

2015-11-24 13:21
Khayelitsha school principal Manono Makhaphela. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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

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Cape Town – “This project made me understand that even if an animal is not yours, it deserves life. I was closed off but I see dogs now that are hungry and need help. There is a connection.”

This was the revelation of Khayelitsha school principal Manono Makhaphela, 45, who was sentenced two years ago for instructing two staff members to bury a stray dog alive. The dog was apparently being a nuisance.

Initially named Warrior, the canine was rescued after being buried 1.5m under the ground for 20 minutes. She was renamed Lily after being adopted.

Part of Makhaphela’s sentence involved instituting an awareness programme at the Luhlaza Senior Secondary School.

Speaking to News24 on Monday after the intervention by the Humane Education Trust last month, he said his eyes had “opened” to the world around him.

“I am not proud of it [the incident]. Being the principal, you always account for everything. The magistrate has done his own judgement and I respect that… For me, it is always good to open your heart to learning.”

He said his family had dogs and farm animals while growing up in Kentani in the Eastern Cape.

But the dogs were to protect the kraal and not for companionship as such.

“It is hard to explain but I took the suffering of animals – dogs, chickens, pigs – for granted. I thought it was just the way it is. But after the workshop, I find myself noticing every dog I see, for the first time.”

“I realise now that animals have a life to live as well.”

Ethics workshop

Trust founder Louise van der Merwe was to thank for bringing the workshops on environmental ethics to life by securing international funding.

The four workshops, held at the school in October, focused on ethics in the classroom, at home, in the community and in the natural environment. It also allowed participants to explore who they were and their roles and responsibilities.

Makhaphela really enjoyed the module on bullying and stress.

“For example, I was unaware that the learners who continually misbehave need my assistance and not punishment.”

He hoped to have an annual art exhibition at the school to make pupils aware of issues of cruelty and kindness, if the provincial education department gave its blessing.

Van der Merwe was satisfied the principal had taken animal welfare "on board". Should the justice department be happy with her report, it could expunge his criminal record for cruelty to animals.

She said it took a lot of courage to “address yourself” and described Makhaphela as “humble and fantastic”.

“At the end of the day, one can say it’s just words. But when I handed in this report, Mr Mak said to me: ‘Louise, that dog did nothing to me’. If I reached him, it’s in those words.”

Khayelitsha school principal Manono Makhaphela with Louise van der Merwe, reading her report on his progress. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Lily the dog. (Supplied)

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime  |  animals

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