The SPCA is determined to see the perpetrators of vicious animal abuse to receive a sentence appropriate for beating a dog to death.
The case centres on a dog called Benjie, which was allegedly beaten to death in Khayelitsha Site B by two men.
“It is inconceivable that Benjie went from being a loving canine companion – the cutie who curled up at night with his owner – to being Case Number 529/05/2018. No dog deserves that,” Belinda Abrahams, spokesperson for the Cape of Good Hope SPCA.
A video of the beating was spread via social media and Abrahams said that the organisation had received public support.
“The public support has been immense, with thousands of individuals completing affidavits calling for the harshest possible penalty in this instance. Support has come from all over South Africa, and we see a nation united with the common interest of ensuring justice for Benjie.”
Heinous form of cruelty
The NSPCA specifically lists dog fighting as a heinous form of cruelty.
“It is a thriving and ever growing criminal activity in South Africa, supported by people from all walks of life and various backgrounds. Dog fights are not the work of a single law breaker, but instead constitute a form of incredibly violent organised crime that is intricately linked to many other criminal activities,” says the NSPCA website.
In addition, dog maiming, fireworks and leaving animals in hot cars are some ways that people are cruel to their pets.
But the SPCA is intent on getting prosecutions for cruelty cases.
“In January 2017, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA was successful in the prosecution of an individual who was found to have contravened the Animals Protection Act no. 71 of 1962 by using greyhounds for the purposes of illegal hunting,” Abrahams said.
“The accused pled guilty and was sentenced to 24 months direct imprisonment, suspended for five years, and fined R10 000. He was also banned from owning any further animals for the next three years. We found this ruling to be truly historic and a landmark victory for animals.”
The NSPCA launched a dedicated Special Investigations Unit to probe dog fighting and to identify the perpetrators.
“The unit also ensured that each of the raids and resultant arrests are watertight cases that are accepted for prosecution under the Animals Protection Act which prohibits all aspects of animal fighting in South Africa,” said the NSPCA.
Abrahams said that judges and magistrates were also looking at cases of animal abuse more seriously.
“The increasing seriousness with which the courts are viewing crimes against animals is becoming more and more evident, and the National Council of SPCAs has just succeeded in the prosecution of three individuals involved in the crime of dog fighting, including one who was only a spectator.
“All three received direct imprisonment sentences of 32 months and 10 months respectively. Additionally, they were declared by the court to be unfit to own any species of animal in the future.”
And abuse of animals is usually linked to abuse of people, she added.
“An average of 70% of pet-owning women who were victims of abuse reported that a pet has been threatened, hurt or killed by their abusers. Animal abuse and cruelty is a strong indicator of domestic violence within the home,” said Abrahams.
“Animal abuse is often used as a threat, to compel compliance or to silence a victim. Individuals who commit violent acts against a vulnerable entity such as animals are up to nine times more likely to commit violent acts against vulnerable people such as women and children.”
In the case of Benjie, the SPCA hopes the perpetrators receive a sentence of imprisonment, according to the Animals Protection Act (1962).