Photo: African News Agency (ANA)

DURBAN - Six men have been found guilty of dog fighting and animal cruelty offences and sentenced to prison, the National Council of SPCA's (NSPCA) said on Monday. 

"Kamogelo Mpiyane, Tshepo Aubrey Sejabatho, Enos Makhamatha, Jabu Phillip Mabena and Samuel Mashilo Mothiba were all sentenced to two-and-a-half years of direct imprisonment with no part suspended and no option of a fine for owning and keeping fighting dogs, as well as subjecting these dogs to filthy living conditions and denying them medical care," said the NSPCA's Wendy Willson. 

Wilson said that Mabena was also sentenced to a further six months for the torture of the dog Mia.

The case was heard at the Atteridgeville Magistrate's Court following the rescue of 14 pit bulls last year.  

“Mia was kept in a cold, dark room, chained so tightly to the roof rafters above that she couldn’t lie down. She was sick from disease and infected wounds, and was unable to even reach water,” said Wilson. 

She said that during sentencing, the magistrate called the crimes "pointless" and "perverse" and added that the punishment given to the men should serve as a warning for others involved in dog fighting or associated activities. 

Another man, Samuel Ribane, was sentenced to 12 months of direct imprisonment for watching a dog fight unfold. The magistrate said Ribane had plenty of time to distance himself from the criminal activities but chose not to. 

Although the men pleaded guilty, the fact that they were sent to prison reflected a "shared sentiment among South African courts" that dog fighting would not be tolerated, said Wilson. 

"In this year alone, 12 criminals have been sentenced to prison time ranging from 12 months to five years for participation in any sort of dog fighting activities," said Wilson. 

The NSPCA's special investigations' unit had secured the convictions of 50 dog fighters to date, with many more awaiting prosecution. 

Wilson said the NSPCA and the unit relied on the continued support of the public and organisations such as the DogTrust Worldwide, which recognised the importance of combatting the crime of dog fighting. 

 African News Agency (ANA)