No justice for animals - SPCA

2017-06-26 13:36
(Picture: SPCA)

(Picture: SPCA)

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Durban - There is no justice for animals at the Pinetown Magistrate's Court.

That's the word from the Kloof and Highway SPCA which claims busy prosecutors there say they have no time to handle animal neglect and abuse matters.

Outreach manager Cheri Cooke told News24 that virtually no cases have been prosecuted for more than two years.

There are currently seven cases pending and, Cooke said, there would be many more but the SPCA had stopped taking matters to court because they were not getting anywhere with them.

"The portfolio would have been much larger if the Pinetown Court, which holds jurisdiction over the majority of our matters, had expressed any interest in dealing with the cases," she said.

"I have been fighting this issue for about three years now."

Prosecutor changes

Cooke said in 2014, a prosecutor had taken a particular interest in SPCA matters but he moved to Camperdown.

"In May 2015, I met with the chief prosecutor and expressed my concern about his departure. I was assured that another prosecutor would assist.

"But by November, six months later, not a single case had been enrolled. In fact, a case which the previous prosecutor had said was an excellent one, had been declined."

Cooke said she met with the senior public prosecutor in April 2016 to again express her concern.

Another prosecutor was then assigned who, after seeing the dockets, agreed they were "court worthy". But then she went on maternity leave for four months and when she returned in February this year, she emailed Cooke.

"She said she was very sorry, but she could no longer assist us because she does not have enough time. She explained that she had been placed in an extremely busy court and now had to deal with between 15 to 25 matters daily and with four bail applications a day, in addition to consulting with investigating officers, her seniors and doing daily statistic reports.

"I have exhausted every avenue. We have approached an attorney Jacques Botha, who has kindly agreed to assist us pro bono and take up the issue directly with the provincial director of public prosecutions."

Botha confirmed he had written to Advocate Moipone Noko and is awaiting her reply.

Denial

Cooke said the SPCA received no funding from government and relied solely on the goodwill of the community financially.

"SPCA inspectors work as police officers in terms of the Animals Protection Act. They work tirelessly to educate people about the wellbeing of animals. Unfortunately, there are sometimes situations in which the cruelty to animals is so severe that it warrants the opening of a criminal docket.

"Rightfully so, the community which funds us expects us to demand justice for these animals."

Among the cases "going nowhere", is one involving a breeder docking tails of Rottweiler puppies, others involving "confined and emaciated" dogs with untreated wounds and the mistreatment of 45 000 chickens.

Approached for comment, Advocate Moipone denied that SPCA matters were not being prosecuted saying there was one presently on the court roll.

"The senior public prosecutor has been tasked to request the other dockets and determine the status of each one. We will revert back to you once we have established the status of these cases."

She said she had not yet had sight of the letter from Botha "however, I will respond accordingly as soon as I do."

Read more on:    spca  |  durban  |  animal cruelty  |  animals

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