CAPE TOWN, 27 July 2023 – A pastor, who posed a fresh buck kill behind the steering wheel of his bakkie for a gaff on social media loses court case calling him out on it…
“The SPCA calls out all forms of animal abuse, and the animal need not be alive for it to do so!” stated Cape of Good Hope SPCA Chief Inspector Jaco Pieterse who on Wednesday won a landmark court case against him by a novice hunter who used the occasion of his first kill to garner some Likes and shares on social media.
Back in September 2019, Pastor Mark Le Roux took to his Facebook page to post a photograph he took with an Impala he had shot and killed, posing its carcass as if it was driving a bakkie while he lay prone on the roof of the car, tongue out, imitating a freshly killed animal. In the body of the post, the hunter went on to question his followers as to whether or he should be ashamed that his recent rite to manhood had aroused him in a sexual way, using the Afrikaans sexual euphemism for an erection “… ek ‘n horing gekry…”
Chief Inspector Jaco Pieterse commented publicly on the post, as did many others, inferring that only a mentally unstable person would make a mockery of a dead animal, worse for mentioning publicly that he had derived sexual pleasure in taking its life, as a secondary meaning. The hunter (a former Facebook friend of Pieterse’s) and holder of a Master’s degree in theology, took offence at Pieterse’s questioning and took him to court, alleging defamation and reputational damage to the amount of R200 000.
He alleged that he suffered a career set-back as a result of Pieterse’s comment; he was not invited back to preach at his church and also that he lost the trust and admiration of a sector of the community he was proud to administer to – the LGBQT audience, who were understandably as appalled as Pieterse by the man of God’s behaviour.
The pastor, as part of his plea before the court in justifying his actions, went on record saying that during cross examination that “the Lord gives us control of the animals to take care of.”
On cross-examination, it was put to him that if this was indicative of ‘care’, silence pursued. What was intentioned is that he should have anticipated that his post and admission of arousal at the act of killing would invoke public outcry and that his deeds and words would be considered to be in extremely poor taste – not least of all by someone whose job it is to ensure that society fosters a healthy respect for all creatures, and definitely to not use sexual innuendo at an animal’s dignity’s expense.
At the heart of the matter, legal-council for Pieterse, Adv Quintin Steyn, defended their client’s post on the basis of animal cruelty and freedom of speech; reminding and started by addressing the court that while the Constitutional Court recognises the sentience of all animals, all members of our society bear a responsibility to uphold standards of animal welfare and to recognise the dignity of all animals.
“As someone who took an oath of office to protect and speak up for animals, I felt it was my duty to stand up and say something. The remainder of my honest opinion and comments on what I said is available to the public and court records is public knowledge. To prevent any further accusations towards myself, any public member is welcome to read the court records.” commented Pieterse.
The court found in Pieterse’s favour, dismissing Le Roux’s case and awarding Pieterse costs which costs also included that of his legal team and counsel.
The SPCA and Jaco Pieterse extend their heartfelt gratitude to the legal counsel of Advocate Quintin Steyn and Wright Attorneys Inc who represented Mr. Pieterse on a pro bono basis on this risk, based on principle.
“This was a win for animal welfare and for the dignity of all animals,” says Pieterse.
The SPCA is opposed to the hunting and fishing of any animal for exhibition, entertainment or sport.