Students microwave family cat

2005-05-18 22:39

Durban - Tango, pet cat of a campus security chief's family, died an "extremely painful" death when she was cooked in a microwave oven belonging to students.

The management of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and education MEC Ina Cronjé, condemned this on Tuesday as a "barbaric" and "shocking" act.

The only other similar case he had come across as an officer of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, was that of a sangoma who had put three live kittens into boiling water, said Roland Fivaz.

It was quite possible the person who cooked the cat in the microwave oven might have stood by and watched while the cat was dying.

Each of the residents of the Pinewood men's residence at the UKZN's Pinetown campus for student teachers faces a R100 fine if the guilty parties do not own up by Friday.

Fivaz said it was particularly disturbing that some students laughed about the incident at a meeting.

'Needs psychological help'

"It was probably students who thought they were playing a prank. If this was not the case, the person should get psychological help."

The family of Nareen Rambharren, chief of security services on the campus, last saw Tango on Sunday night when she came trotting up to them on their arrival at their campus flat.

On Monday morning, one of the security guards came to them, looking for a box. A cleaner had discovered the dead cat in a microwave oven in the communal kitchen.

Fivaz mentioned that the SPCA had received several anonymous complaints.

Professor Kobus Visser of the physics department at the University of Stellenbosch said that although the cat would have died within minutes in the microwave oven, it would have been an extremely painful death.

Microwaves are a kind of electromagnetic wave which affects polar molecules such as water. They allow the molecules to release energy and thus become heated.

Body tissue might explode

Visser said: "Like a human, a cat's body is about 80 percent water. This means the nervous system would boil before death occurred."

Apart from external burns, the tissue in the body may explode because of the cooking process, said Visser.

Trevor Wills, dean of student affairs, said the university was doing everything in its power to bring the guilty parties to book.

According to Fivaz, cruelty to animals carries a penalty of a fine of up to R20 000 or two years' imprisonment.