The Magistrate presiding over the Benji matter proceeded straight to sentencing and handed down Judgement in this animal cruelty case.
In his summary of the judgement, the magistrate stated “The prosecutor asked me if I wanted to see the video again to which I responded, this is not the kind of video any person can watch a second time”
The magistrate continued “Accused one and accused two have both pleaded not guilty, having reviewed the evidence I find you guilty of cruelty to animals in terms of the Animal Protection Act 71 of 1962”.
In their defence, the accused stated at the time they reacted to a dog attacking a six-year-old child. In their attempt to get the dog off the child, they stabbed the dog in defence and saved the six-year-old child’s life.
In summary, the court responded by stating “a stab to immobilise an attacking dog is one thing, continuing to stab a dog after it has already been immobilised is something else.”
Sentences for a breach of the Animal Protection Act currently cannot exceed a prison term of 12 months (in terms of offences in respect of animals) and 2 years (in respect of animal fighting). Each of these sentences exists in the alternative to an unspecified fine alone. In terms of the Adjustment of Fines Act of 1991, that effectively means a maximum fine of R40 000 and R80 000 respectively. Discretion on the part of the presiding Magistrate, in handing down a sentence for animal cruelty, is limited to only reducing a sentence and not increasing a sentence to beyond the prescribed maximum.
Both the accused, first-time offenders, were sentenced to the maximum period of 12-month direct imprisonment, suspended for 5 years, subject to an equal term of 12 months community service under the auspices of the Cape of Good Hope SPCA directly overseen by Chief Inspector Jaco Pieterse
We hope that by undertaking the oversight of the community service , we are able to witness true reform in this instance. This will ensure the compassionate treatment of every animal that crosses the path of the offenders in the future. We also hope that this outcome sends out a strong message to those who choose to take the law into their own hands. There is no excuse for animal abuse.
The prosecuting inspector Siviwe Noko a.k.a “The General” says he is relieved that the matter has reached a guilty verdict and thanks the public for their encouragement and active participation in this case! It is your support that keeps our Inspectors in the Courtrooms and allows them the privilege of speaking on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.
Chief Inspector Jaco Pieterse said “This was one of the most horrific acts of animal cruelty I have witnessed in my career with the SPCA. No animal deserves to suffer at the hands of humans”