The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) reports that a man was sentenced in the Krugersdorp Magistrates Court on 12 March 2018, for the illegal sale of a chameleon at the intersection of the N14 and R24 in Gauteng.
This intersection is infamous for the illegal trade of indigenous, wild caught animals.
On 13 January 2018, an off duty NSPCA Senior Inspector was travelling towards Johannesburg where she became aware of an individual displaying a chameleon on a stick to passing motorists.
The Senior Inspector was able to engage with the suspect and obtain vital evidence such as his name, his telephone number as well as identifying photographs of him in the act.
The Senior Inspector immediately laid charges at the Tarlton SAPS in terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962 as well as Nature Conservation Ordinances for illegal activities with wildlife. Swift action by the Tarlton SAPS resulted in the arrest of the accused on the same day.
The accused appeared in the Krugersdorp Magistrates Court on 12 March 2018 where he chose to plead guilty and take responsibility not only for the illegal capture and selling of an indigenous wild animal, but for also intentionally causing suffering.
In aggravation arguments, the Prosecutor made it very clear that chameleons are the third most traded species in the pet trade and as one of the few countries that has a chameleon population, it is important that South Africa protects these vulnerable species.
The presiding Magistrate deemed this crime as serious and that it was in the public’s interest for action to be taken against perpetrators involved in wildlife crime. She further explained that wild animals should be allowed to be free in their natural habitat and that the accused chose to mistreat this animal and she needed to be its voice.
The accused was sentenced to a R6000 fine or imprisonment of 6 months but because he chose to plead guilty and is a first time offender, the sentence was suspended for 5 years on condition that he does not offend again.
“We applaud the Magistrate and the Prosecutor for deeming these offences serious. The illegal wildlife trade not only threatens the existence of countless species, but by taking these animals out of the wild and denying them their freedom, seriously compromises their well-being. Furthermore, the complete disregard of laws as well as the lack of empathy towards these creatures detrimentally impacts society” National Inspector Irinka Schröder explained.