A 32-year-old Modimolle security guard, identified as Mr Madiba Hofney Maluleka, was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment or pay R20 000 in the Modimolle court after the Honorable Magistrate Ingrid Mokwena found him guilty of involvement in dogfighting activities, illegal hunting with dogs, illegal possession of wild animals and further cruelty towards animals. The convicted was further declared unfit to own or be in charge of any animal in the future.

In April of 2019 the rescue of multiple dogs, tortoises and livestock from a property in Freedom Park, Modimolle by the Special Investigations Unit of the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) was widely covered in the media after the Unit received a tip-off about suspected dogfighting and wild pig baiting activities being carried out with pit bull terrier dogs.

In this, the first case of this nature for the province, Magistrate Mokwena stated during judgement that the State had proven that the accused had, for his own purposes, abused animals, maimed them, used them for dogfighting and illegal wild pig hunting and proceeded to find him guilty on all the 12 counts against him. During sentencing, the court went on to elaborate that abuse of animals is not just a minor personality flaw but that studies have found people who torture animals are also aggressive towards their fellow man.

The State witnesses included Inspectors of the Special Investigations Unit and specialist veterinarians. During testimony Inspector Ayanda Ngcofe-Carelse recounted how the horrific injuries and scars on the dogs had painted a picture of what the dogs had had to endure in their lives and the terrible conditions that all the animals on the property lived under. The testimonies of two veterinarians further spoke to the suffering of the animals in the accused’s care and how this abuse and prolonged cruelty had ultimately led to the death or necessary euthanasia of many of these creatures.

Madiba Hofney Maluleka was found guilty on 12 charges including possessing and breeding dogs to fight other animals, allowing dogs used for fighting other animals to be kept on his property, ill-treating and neglecting his animals, maiming his animals by cutting off their ears, chaining and confining his animals, underfeeding and denying water to his animals, denying them medical care, provoking any animal to attack another animal, for his premeditative abuse and not taking of any action to prevent the suffering of his animals, illegal possession of wild animals in conditions leading to their suffering.

During aggravation of sentence State Prosecutor Mmakgwaadi Mampana and NSPCA Inspectors explained the dire cost of the accused’s actions to the moral fibre of a community, especially children exposed to the violence of dogfighting and wild pig baiting activities.

This case is yet another clear illustration that the abuse of one animal not only indicates the likely abuse of other vulnerable animals but also indicates the existence of additional criminal activity.

The Special Investigations Unit wishes to extend its appreciation to State Prosecutor Mampana and Investigating Officer SAPS Detective Anita Pretorius for their dedication to this case and for their devotion to ensuring that justice was served in a case fraught with challenges.

The backing of the animal lovers of South Africa and the continued support of the Dog Trust Worldwide enables the Special Investigations Unit of the NSPCA to undertake these rescues and pursue prosecution against all the odds.

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