Cape Town – Police are investigating a complaint about a man who threw a rooster up in the air at a Stellenbosch University residence party at the weekend.
Photos also showed a lit cigarette being pushed into its beak during Helshoogte Residence's "hoenderdag" (chicken day) on Saturday.
The Animal Welfare Society of Stellenbosch (AWSS) said it laid a complaint with police in the town and the case has been assigned an investigator.
"Our inspector will be liaising with him and providing the necessary evidence to prosecute the accused," said AWSS spokesperson Jessica Perrins.
The organisation received a tip-off about the man's identity, but has not yet contacted him.
Western Cape police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana confirmed a case was opened.
No links to residence, university
Animal rights activists and members of the public reacted with outrage after a video and photos of the rooster emerged online.
Most took to the residence's Facebook page to give it a 1-star rating, condemning the behaviour.
The residence came out against the animal abuse on the same day, saying the guilty party was not affiliated to it.
The university confirmed the man had no links to the residence and was not a student or alumnus.
Stellenbosch University spokesperson Martin Viljoen said the institution condemned animal cruelty and was investigating the incident.
"Hoenderdag is a celebration of music and dance with food stalls," said Viljoen.
The name originates from the residence emblem which features a chicken (hoender in Afrikaans) – considered a revered and respected symbol by residents.
"Chickens are however not involved in the day," he said.
Rooster 'ill-treated, terrified and tortured'
The event took place on the residence's premises and was open to anyone who paid a R30 entrance fee.
Perrins said AWSS believes the individual brought the rooster to the event.
"This proves premeditation on the part of the alleged perpetrator. Why else would anyone bring a live chicken to the event?"
She said the man had contravened various sections of the Animals Protection Act in that he allegedly "ill-treated, terrified and tortured the rooster – he liberated the bird in such a manner as to expose it to immediate danger. It is very likely that he inhumanely carried and confined the rooster."
She condemned this behaviour on university premises.
Viljoen said all indications are that this was an isolated incident. The university has not received any other similar complaints.
The rooster is said to now be "safe, happy and among other chickens".