Barbaric killing of a leopard near Uniondale: Knowingly left in a cage to die of starvation and dehydration.
In or about August 2020, Mr Andre Barnard of Toorwater farm, along the southern slopes of the Swartberg near Uniondale in the Western Cape, is alleged to have killed a leopard under the most depraved and barbaric circumstances. The leopard was allegedly illegally captured in a cage trap without the requisite permits, then, knowing it was captured, Mr Barnard allegedly wished it dead, but did not want to shoot it. Nor would he call CapeNature or Landmark Foundation for assistance. Instead, it was left to die of dehydration in the cage. His son and the farm workers were knowing of this and/or involved in this.
It is unknown how long the leopard was left to suffer before it died. Thirst is the only urge a mammal cannot resist. Dying of dehydration, by deprivation of water, is the cruelest death any animal can be subjected to.
Landmark Foundation has agitated since March 2022 to get the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to fully prosecute the alleged crimes. Initially the charges included only illegal capture and killing of the leopard without due permits in terms of the 1974 Provincial Ordinance and disregarded the ethics or depravity of the method the animal was allegedly intentionally killed. With our agitation, charges were added in respect of the Animal Protection Act. However, attempts by the accused and the NPA to get a plea deal agreement intervened. The Landmark Foundation asked for a watching brief in court and the right to address the Magistrate’s Court presiding officer in aggravation of sentencing. We demanded that all the transgressions in law (the Conservation Ordinance and the Animal Protection Act) should have been prosecuted and charged. We also believe that the farm workers and the son of Mr Barnard that was allegedly involved in and/or had knowledge of the leopard capture and the circumstances of it being left to die in the cage, be charged also as accomplices.
These actions are barbaric!
What is equally shocking is the criminal justice system’s atrocious prosecution of this matter. The accused has been before court on at least 6 occasions where we have attended. He has still not been asked to plead. From one Magistrate’s opining about the plight of farmers and how terrible leopards are, and the State not compensating farmers (even before the accused has pleaded), to brazen arrogance of the NPA in this matter, there seems little prospect of justice being served in this matter.
We believe an appropriate sentence be to be imposed on all guilty parties. We have succeeded in elevating the matter from the District to the Regional Magistrates Court. The initial plea deal presented by the accused had been rejected.
We have lodged a complaint at the Magistrates Commission in respect of the clearly biased Magistrate Henderson’s conduct in the Uniondale District Magistrates Court 8 June 2022 and have not had the decency of a response therein.
At the first appearance in the Regional Magistrate Court the prosecutor arrived ill-prepared and was not even being able to advise the Magistrate of what the charges were, then later confirming that the charges had been truncated to only 2 charges (from 4 previously), and what is more, their claiming the leopard was killed in a snare when in fact it was in a cage trap. The tragedy of errors continues and are now laced by arrogance from senior NPA staff trying to cover over this layered incompetence and disinterest in the killing of a protected species and the cruelty. This is not the first instant, in fact the fifth example in our experience, of disinterest in respect leopard killing prosecutions by landowners. With such disinterest and lack of prosecutorial rigor, these animals have little hope.
So, the illegal killing of a leopard and abject barbarity has not yet been prosecuted and the prosecution seems to be bumbling along, and yet we have a dead leopard, killed in the cruelest of circumstances.
There were reasonable alternatives available to the farmer, that could have rescued leopard from a barbaric, unthinkable death, to potentially translocate the animal or collar and release it back on site as part of a compensation scheme to the farmer. Instead, the allegedly farmer left the leopard in the cage to die of dehydration.
Below are the emails on this matter and the relevant contact details of the state officials charged with executing justice for our wildlife. Please assist us in getting justice for this situation.
Please join us in demanding justice for this animal and attend court on 15 September in Uniondale to ensure our civil servants do their civil duty. All the relevant contact details are below.
To: 'Repsadmin@npa.gov.za' <Repsadmin@npa.gov.za>; 'email@example.com' <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: 'TOMMY Tommy (NPA Contact)' <email@example.com>; 'Botha Rosina' <RoBotha@justice.gov.za>; 'Zietsman Rietta' <RZietsman@justice.gov.za>; 'Redelinghuys Muller' <MRedelinghuys@justice.gov.za>; 'Jaxa Gloria' <GJaxa@justice.gov.za>; 'Le Roux Riaan' <RLeRoux@justice.gov.za>; 'Nieuwoudt Michael' <MiNieuwoudt@justice.gov.za>; 'firstname.lastname@example.org' <email@example.com>; 'Carlo Van Tonder' <firstname.lastname@example.org>; 'Ernst Baard' <email@example.com>; 'Barend Le Roux' <firstname.lastname@example.org>; 'Simon Candice' <CSimon@justice.gov.za>; 'Jacomina Swart (A)' <email@example.com>; 'firstname.lastname@example.org' <email@example.com>