‘No justice for circus jumbos’

2016-05-13 08:27
Brian Boswell stands outside Opal the Orangutan’s enclosure.

Brian Boswell stands outside Opal the Orangutan’s enclosure. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has slammed the Grahamstown director of public prosecutions’ decision to drop charges against the owners/directors of the Brian Boswell Circus.

In March 2013, the NSPCA laid criminal charges against two owners and directors of the circus, the elephant trainer and four elephant handlers employed at the circus.

A press release by NSPCA wildlife protection unit senior inspector Isabel Wentzel said the charges were laid after video footage emerged showing two elephants being beaten with sticks and whips.

The video also showed the elephants in chains and in the heat without shade or water for hours.

The footage was taken while the circus was at the Walmer West Primary School in Port Elizabeth.

“After the footage was aired on Carte Blanche during 2013, it was alleged that the four elephant handlers seen in the video evidence had been dismissed and have since ‘disappeared’,” said Wentzel.

“We are extremely disappointed and do not feel that justice has been served,” she said.

Wentzel said she had been told by an advocate on that the case had been withdrawn as the individuals involved could not be traced.

“It seems that all blame will be laid at the doors of these conveniently unidentified handlers dismissed before they were given a chance to tell their side of the story,” she said.

“Unless they are found, these elephants will not receive any justice.”

In response to the NSPCA statement, Boswell said yesterday that he was pleased that the criminal proceedings against three of the circus’s managers had been withdrawn.

He said the circus had attempted to view the video footage “to take appropriate steps and measures against the responsible employees” from January 2013.

“All these requests to the NSPCA were refused,” on the basis that there was a criminal matter pending, said Boswell.

He said the NSPCA had elected to make the video footage available to Carte Blanche.

“An aspect of concern to the circus management is information in the police docket that recorded the NSPCA having access to the video for at least two weeks before contacting the circus,” he said.

“The refusal by the NSPCA to make the footage available and to provide any details of what was visible on the footage could potentially have caused further harm to the animals.

“As soon as the circus became aware of the nature of the video, it immediately took appropriate steps against the employees involved.”

He added that the local SPCA inspector had visited the circus and the elephants “on no less than six occasions” while his circus was in Port Elizabeth, and found nothing wrong.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  animals

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