This week, two horrific cases involving the sexual abuse of animals have re-entered the media spotlight, prompting Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA) to call for the harshest possible sentences for the perpetrators.
On Thursday, a man appeared at the Bronkhorstspruit Magistrate’s Court accused of allegedly raping his 41-year-old helper and then forcing her to perform sexual acts on his dog. According to SAPS spokesperson, Captain Mavela Masonda, the 45-year-old employer allegedly dragged her into a room in his home, raped her until the early hours of the following day and then continued the abuse by forcing her to sexually abuse his dog.
Gauteng Police Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Deliwe de Lange, was horrified by the incident, assuring the victim and her family that the police “will ensure that the suspect is brought to justice and, if found guilty, (he) must pay dearly for his evil and barbaric acts”.
On Thursday, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane-Louw said the accused had abandoned his bail application and the case had been postponed to February 5 for further investigation.
Meanwhile, this week an Alexandra family was forced to apply for a protection order for themselves, the animals and children in their area. This after a man who admitted to raping their dog was given a suspended sentence at the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court.
On October 15, Fanroi Mochachi was caught raping 8-month-old Blackie, a cross-breed female, in the yard which he shared with the dog’s owners in Alexandra. The child owner and his uncle heard the dog crying, went to investigate and discovered Mochachi in the act. They subsequently turned him over to the police.
Just days later, the 45-year-old was taken to the Alexandra Regional Court where he pleaded guilty to charges of bestiality in terms of the Criminal Law (Sexual offences and related matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007.
The father of six was put to shame by Magistrate Syta Pretorius, who insisted that the offence to which he had admitted was “serious, unnatural and barbaric”.
“Worse still, is that you are married and a role model to your six children, and upsetting is that you will be expected to engage sexually with your wife,” she told Mochachi.
She concluded by saying that Mochachi’s actions and that of others like him - who have uncontrollable desires to sleep with any female, child or dog - were truly shameful and must be stopped. However, in a surprisingly lenient decision, Magistrate Pretorius sentenced Mochachi to a five-year prison sentence, though it would be wholly suspended for the next five years. Effectively, this meant Mochachi was free to return to his home, which has gravely unsettled the family who own Blackie.
While the family are still putting together their protection order application with the help of WMACA and the Sandton SPCA, the NGO has uncovered numerous international studies to show that those who inflict harm on animals - sexually or physically - are likely to re-offend.
According to a legal journal article from 2001 by Mellisa Trollinger, the link between animal abuse as a stepping stone to child abuse, domestic abuse and even murder is undeniable.
“The largest battered women’s shelters in 48 states were questioned about their experience with domestic violence, child abuse and animal abuse.
“When asked the following question, 85.4% of the 48 shelters answered ‘yes’: ‘Do women who come into your shelter talk about incidents of pet abuse?’ Moreover, 63% out of 46 of the shelters answered ‘yes’ to the following question: ‘Do children who come into your shelter talk about incidents of pet abuse?’ ”
She also highlighted that the cycle of abuse often starts with children taking out their frustrations on their pets.
“In a study of abusive households with pets, it was found that in 32% of these homes, the children abused their pets,” Trollinger wrote.
The research from an SPCA study from Massachusetts in 1997 also claimed that 70% of all animal abusers have committed at least one other criminal offense and almost 40% have committed violent crimes against people.
A 2005 police study from Australia also stated that 100% of sexual homicide offenders examined had a history of animal cruelty.
The reports also suggest that 40% of sex offenders who victimised children admitted to engaging in sex with animals, while between 80% and 90% of domestic violence victims said their abusers started with abuse to their pets.
While local studies on animal abuse are few and far between, according to Women and Men Against Child Abuse director Miranda Jordan there is enough information internationally to ask that animal sexual and physical abusers receive harsher punishments to ensure they do not re-offend - potentially on humans.
“The Sandton SPCA and WMACA would like to see much harsher sentences regarding the sexual violation of animals who, like children, are completely helpless to stop such violent attacks on them,” the two organisations said in a statement this week after the Alexandra incident.
“Sexual predators, regardless of the type of crime, should be monitored.
“It is a fact that bestiality is merely a stepping stone to sex crimes where the victims could be other vulnerable beings, like children or young women,” said Jordan.