Durban - A 42-year-old man has been arrested and charged with animal cruelty after he brutally killed a kitten outside his Phoenix home on Wednesday.

He was released on R1 500 bail on Thursday.

The arresting officer – and witness – said neighbours reported seeing the man chasing the kitten earlier that day, even putting her down a manhole.

Constable Judah Israel, an off-duty member of the SAPS Tactical Response Team, was travelling along the Phoenix highway when he saw the man beating the kitten.

As he has a sore leg, his wife was driving. “I shouted at him to stop and showed him my badge, but he carried on,” he said. “I couldn’t get out the car as traffic was moving and I can’t really walk, but my wife made a U-turn.”

By the time he got back, Israel said, the kitten was apparently dead and he turned his attention to apprehending the suspect, and sought the help of two metro police officers nearby.

“I then saw that he had gone inside his house… The metro police rushed in and I waited at the door in case he ran out. But they took a long time and I eventually found out that they couldn’t find him. The lady in the house told them he was not there.”

However, the officers found the man hiding under a bed. The man was made to show where he had hidden the kitten, and they followed him to an area across the road where he had covered it with leaves.

The SPCA was called to the scene.

“I can’t even explain how it felt to watch that. Being an animal lover and not being able to stop him quickly enough because of my injury – it’s another feeling altogether,” Israel said.

SPCA spokeswoman Caroline Smith said

the SPCA had laid a charge of animal cruelty against the man at the Phoenix police station. She said the maximum punishment was three years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of R60 000.

“He deserves to be locked up,” she said. - The Mercury