Cape town - Suffering from “electromagnetic field intolerance syndrome”, self-proclaimed dog whisperer James Lech was ushered into a dark courtroom at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, where he was ordered to Valkenberg Hospital.
The courtroom was in virtual lockdown when lawyers, the public, media and the clerk of the court were denied access to court proceedings. Lights and cellphones were switched off during proceedings.
Lech appeared in court on charges of neglect after his dog attacked a 2-year-old girl near Clifton second beach in January 2012.
He was also charged with negligence for keeping “dogs without a leash in a public place not designated by the council to be a free-running area”.
According to court documents, people who suffer from “electromagnetic field intolerance syndrome” experience sensitivity to their environment.
They report “physical and psychological symptoms when coming into contact with magnetic fields such as cellphones, cellphone towers and electrical equipment”.
Symptoms include fatigue, headaches, nausea and weakness.
However, the condition is not accepted as a bona fide condition by the broader medical community.
On Thursday, prosecutor Adiel Jansen called Dr Sean Kaliski, an experienced forensic psychiatrist at Valkenberg Hospital, to the stand. He is in charge of treating state offenders there.
Kaliski said it was not possible to treat Lech as an outpatient, as the defence requested.
Magistrate Lindiwe Gura ruled that Lech be admitted to Valkenberg as an in-patient.
The matter has been postponed to Wednesday.