In September 2014, the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) laid charges against Mr Andre Du Plessis for neglect and abuse of a capuchin monkey named Elvis. Mr Du Plessis had been feeding Elvis sweets and coffee and had attached a nappy to the primate which caused a serious infection.

Elvis was taken to a veterinarian and diagnosed with diabetes due to the incorrect feeding provided by Mr Du Plessis. Two weeks after the diagnosis, Elvis was taken to Fourways Veterinary Hospital when he was in a state of collapse and had infected wounds in his pelvic area. He later died due to thermal shock and cardiopulmonary failure.

A case was opened by the NSPCA in September 2014. The docket was lost twice, and seven different investigating officers were assigned to the case. The accused disappeared and a warrant for his arrest was issued – the accused was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport in January 2019, bringing the case back to court.

Mr Du Plessis was found guilty of neglect and for attaching nappies to the monkey. Mr Du Plessis was sentenced to a fine of R24 000 or 12 months imprisonment, of which R18 000 or nine months imprisonment was suspended for three years.

“We were persistent in ensuring justice for Elvis, and for other exotic primates that are being kept as pets, like him. Attaching nappies to monkeys is unnecessary and could cause injury as seen in this case. Furthermore, primates need the correct diet which generally cannot be provided in unnatural and domesticated environments. Social structures of primates also cannot be recreated by human owners. We remain of the opinion that wild animals belong in the wild” said Senior Inspector Arno De Klerk, manager of the NSPCAs Special Projects Unit.

Magistrate Pravin Raghunandan said in her ruling that animals are deserving of protection and that she deems the actions of Mr Du Plessis as serious.

Sincere appreciation to Dr Leon Nel from Fourways Veterinary Hospital for taking the initiative to report the matter to us and for standing as an expert witness in this case, as well as Dr Stefan Steyn from Ondestepoort Bird and Exotic Animal Hospital, Sister Deanne Kelly and Sister Amanda Pybus from Fourways Veterinary Hospital for being reliable witnesses and strong voices for Elvis.

The NSPCA wishes to extend their heartfelt thanks to Magistrate Raghunandan and Prosecutor Mulaudzi from the Randburg Magistrates Court for ensuring that justice for Elvis was served.

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