Tragic twist to monkey drama

2010-09-25 00:00

UNDER the unrelenting stress caused by the trauma of his monkeys being secretly euthanased by the Ezemvelo KZN wildlife, Johan Olivier finally lost control yesterday and tried to take his own life.

Olivier apparently tried to commit suicide by gassing himself in his car at his home in Cato Ridge at midday yesterday, but was found by a neighbour who summoned help. He was taken to hospital in a critical but stable condition and was believed to be in the high-care unit late yesterday.

For the past week, Olivier has been in emotional turmoil after Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) confiscated his vervet monkeys. To save them the stress of being darted, he himself took them to the Centre for Rehabilitation for Wildlife in Yellowood Park, believing he was doing what was best for them.

He later learned that the EKZNW had euthanased two of the three monkeys, the adults, without informing him. One of the monkeys was said to be heavily pregnant when she was killed.

This sent him to an emotional tailspin. In his initial interview with Weekend Witness he said, “They killed my babies, I have nothing to live for”.

Richard de Jager, one of the concerned neighbours who has been trying to help Olivier cope with his loss, said the decision taken by the EKZNW had mentally and emotionally broken Olivier.

“Those monkeys were his companions and his family and what he experienced is the same as having your child taken away from you,” said De Jager.

De Jager said prior to Olivier trying to take his life, they put him in contact with a helpline to help him cope.

“Ever since this whole tragedy started, he has been crying all the time … he came to our house and we put him in contact with Lifeline.”

“For hours he spoke to the woman there and was crying and the woman could not make sense of what he was saying.”

De Jager labelled EKZNW’s action as cruelty and called for a more humane way to deal with such situations in future.

“People keep pets for different reasons and the EKZNW should have dealt with the situation in a sensitive manner and all of this would have been avoided.”

Neighbour Colleen Walsh called for the head of the person who authorised that the monkeys should be killed.

“They broke the law because they should have given him 21 days to deal with the situation.”

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