The NSPCA celebrates a significant victory in its prosecution against Leon “Kylon” Liversage, a prominent rodeo organiser and participant, following a landmark judgment handed down by the Middelburg Magistrates’ Court on 13 February 2024.  Mr Liversage’s prosecution stems from a rodeo event held on 25 March 2023, at the Ribbokkloof Lodge in Middelburg, Mpumalanga.

Despite explicit prohibitions under warrant against the use of bucking straps, spurs, and bells – devices known to inflict severe distress and injury upon animals – Mr Liversage persisted in, and allowed the continued use of these devices. This blatant disregard for the warrant resulted in Mr. Liversage’s arrest on the day of the event, for contempt of court.

Following an arduous prosecution, with testimony by National Inspector Daryl White and NSPCA Veterinary Consultant, Dr Bryce Marock, the Middelburg Magistrates’ Court found Mr. Liversage guilty on all four counts brought against him.  These charges include animal cruelty in terms of sections 2(1)(a), 2(1)(f) and 2(1)(q) & (r) of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962.

The Court sentenced Mr Liversage to twelve months’ direct imprisonment, suspended for five years on condition that he does not commit the same offences during the suspension. The Court cautioned Mr Liversage to spread the word to rodeo participants that the cruel equipment should not be used again.  While the NSPCA would have preferred a more severe sentence, we are still thankful that Mr. Liversage will carry a criminal record that will have long-lasting consequences.

This ruling serves as a resounding condemnation of the rodeo activity’s use of cruel practices that contravene animal protection laws.  The NSPCA applauds the court’s decision, which underscores the urgent need for greater scrutiny and regulation of rodeo events nationwide, especially in the authorisation of licences in terms of the Performing Animals Protection Act 24 of 1935, which ought to safeguard these sentient beings against cruelty and adverse exploitation.

National Inspector Daryl White comments: “This victory sends a clear message to rodeo participants that our society will not tolerate the exploitation and abuse of animals for entertainment purposes.  We will continue to vigorously enforce the Animals Protection Act and associated Acts, and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.”

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