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Cape Town -

A 31-year-old man was released on warning after he appeared at the Hermanus Magistrate’s Court for allegedly assaulting a protester during a picket against animal cruelty outside a circus at the weekend.

Toni Brockhoven, national chairman of animal activist group Beauty Without Cruelty, was at the picket and witnessed the alleged assault.

Brockhoven said an employee of the McLarens Circus was arrested in connection with the assault.

In a letter he sent to the Cape Times, he said: “On Saturday, January 31, at a peaceful demonstration against the inclusion of animals in the circus due to inherent cruelty, protesters intentionally stood on the opposite pavement to the circus at the corner of Main and Mussel Street, Hermanus, to avoid any confrontation or interaction with the circus.

“An unprovoked attack took place in which a large, heavy plank with protruding nails was thrown from across the road, hitting one of the protesters on the upper right arm. Among the protesters were children; there of their own volition, with their parents.”

But circus owner David McLaren said: “We can confirm the incident, but also need to make it clear that the version of events differ as no plank ever hit anyone. It will be up to the court to decide on February 12 (which) version they believe.

“Ian is employed as a car guard and the children at the protest showed him the middle finger, and intimidated and threw a stone at him.”

He said the protest was not peaceful as stated by the person who sent you the letter.

“We have video evidence of this and can gladly bring it to your office today. Unfortunately, we are battling to download it on to an e-mail version, but we do have it and will gladly present it. One can clearly hear one of the girls shouting at our staff member that he needed a ‘Tummy Tuck’,” McLaren said.

Police spokesman Andre Traut said the man allegedly assaulted a demonstrator.

He said while the man was out on warning, the case was under investigation.

Cape Times