Cat fight ends in court

2019-03-29 15:49
Prestbury resident Barbara Still holds a picture up of her cat, Bagheera, who had been shot and killed by an air rifle.

Prestbury resident Barbara Still holds a picture up of her cat, Bagheera, who had been shot and killed by an air rifle. (Ian Carbutt)

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A man accused of shooting his neighbour’s cat because he believed it preyed on birds in his garden claims he needs protection from being harassed by her.

An inquiry was held in the Pietermaritzburg harassment court on Thursday on whether to finalise a temporary protection order obtained by the man, Darryl Moss, against the cat owner, Barbara Still.

READ: ‘Prestbury menace shot my cat’

Moss — whose name was not published by The Witness at the time the controversy erupted — was accused by Still when she told the newspaper last year that she suspected her neighbour of killing her cat.

The article was posted on The Witness Facebook­ page and shared 52 times, said his attorney, Anand Pillay.

He said on Thursday that Moss had been threatened by people who commented on the article. One person even posted a picture of his business and called for people to boycott it. In response, Still’s attorney, Simiso Miya, said she has no control over what is said on Facebook. Pillay said that another article appeared in Weekend Witness and because of previous comments about his business, people were aware the article was about him.

In addition, a Facebook page was created of his business and a friend of Still’s mentioned his name on it.

Pillay said, “This caused him much hardship emotionally and financially.”

Still also mentioned his name on Google maps as the man who killed her cat, but her attorney responded that she was exercising her right to freedom of speech.

Since the cat was found dead in Moss’s yard and the postmortem report found it had not moved far from where it was shot, she had reason to believe he was the killer.

ALSO READ: Shot cat: Man goes to court

Miya also submitted that one Facebook post in relation to the man’s business did not fulfil the requirements for a protection order to be granted.

In any event Still had removed the post in question within 24 hours.

Miya also added that Moss has never denied shooting Still’s cat.

Still also posted a picture of her cat on Instagram and mentioned, by name, that Moss had killed her cat.

Miya said this post was made on her “private account” and only her friends could see it.

Pillay said the harassment of his client was directly at Still’s behest, whether by means of articles in The Witness, reviews on Google maps, comments on Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media.

He said the allegations and subsequent posts stemmed from Still’s interview with the newspaper, “based on inaccuracies, speculation and assumptions” and this had sparked outrage against his client.

“She must take full responsibility and be held accountable,” said Pillay.

He said she was the content creator and all the social media platforms were the forum through which the content was commented on and distributed extensively.

“She cannot just disassociate herself from what she started by repeatedly stating she has no control over what she started,” said Pillay.

Miya said The Witness had approached Still for the story and the man’s name was never mentioned.

“He deduced it’s him. It does not mean everyone else did. She has no control over what The Witness publishes,” he said.

On Facebook, “not a single post came from her”.

“There is no allegation she incited people to make the comments,” he said.

He said there were no reasons for the court to grant Moss the order he sought. If anything, said Miya, Still should be granted a protection order so he will stop harassing her to put collars with bells on her cats.

Judgment takes place on April 25.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  animal cruelty
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