Cruelty to animals could attract prison term, says attorney

2010-11-17 00:00

CRUELTY to animals should be punished to the full letter of the law even if this means the perpetrator spends time in prison.

This is the opinion of local attorney Vincent van der Merwe who has expressed his anger at cruelty to animals that is not adequately punished.

Among the reasons he cites this is what he calls “the pathetic attempts of the police to investigate reported cases of animal abuse”.

Van der Merwe was speaking in response to a recent report of a Port Edward man who shot off the leg of his son’s dog when it ate his chickens’ eggs.

The dog, which was feeding puppies at the time, was put down due to its severe injuries.

Van der Merwe says a crime like this could carry a jail sentence of up to five years if it was investigated and prosecuted properly in a court of law.

He says he has a case that has been open for more than a year and cannot proceed because the police have still not completed their investigations.

In documents he showed The Witness, the crime he has been trying to bring to court goes back to September 2009.

Dr Hildi Nel’s cat was shot by a pellet gun and she approached Van der Merwe. He is still waiting for a full police investigation to be completed.

Van der Merwe says it is only when severe penalties for animal cruelty are imposed that these heinous acts will stop.

“It seems to be the norm to charge people who shoot animals with only cruelty to animals and not more serious charges.

“In terms of Section 120 of the Act, any person who causes any damage to another person’s property [pets are regarded as property under SA law] by way of a pellet gun, contravenes the Act and must be charged under the Act,” he says.

“The consequences are far more serious and far-reaching than the mere slap on the wrist of animal cruelty.

“Our law further regards it as theft should an owner’s pet die as a result of such actions by third parties — and can and should carry a jail sentence.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Zandra Wiid of the SA Police Force in Port Shepstone said: “After inquiries I established that this docket is now with the public prosecutor for his decision.”

She said that the investigation was completed at the end of October and that it was the ballistics report that had come from Pretoria at the end of October that had caused the delay. Wiid explained that there were often delays with ballistics and forensic reports.

She said Van der Merwe was welcome to approach the Port Shepstone station commander to discuss the matter.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.