The tortoise that was injured after Mercy Lebakeng threw against a a rock. It was later euthanised.

Johannesburg- A 58 year old Ekurhuleni woman who threw a tortoise against a rock after it wandered into her yard now has a criminal record after being convicted and sentenced for animal cruelty.

Letiya Mercy Lebakeng  pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a fine for R500 or 50 days imprisonment at the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court on Monday. 

She received a further sentence of 12 month imprisonment which was suspended for five years should. In addition to that, Lebakeng was declared unfit to own or be in charge of any animal for five years.

It all started in February last year when a neighbour's tortoise wandered into Lebakeng's yard in Palm Ridge. She then picked it up and went outside the yard, lifted it up above her head and threw it against a rock. 

The tortoise's shell was severely cracked and it also lost the use of one of it's hind legs.

Arno De Klerk, National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals's (NCSPCA)'s Special Projects Unit Manager said they took the badly injured tortoise to a vet and also opened a case against Molakeng.

"As it had lost the function of it's hind leg, it was also taken to a rehabilitation centre to see if it would be able to gain the function of the leg.

"It was at the rehab centre for months but when it was not getting better, the vet took a decision to euthanise it," De Klerk said.

Although the matter stated early last year, it was only concluded on Monday.  De Klerk believes that the conviction and subsequent sentence would be a deterrent to those who believe they can abuse animals and get away with it.

"You can't deliberately injure animals and get away with it. Laws are there to protect them. You can't just say just because it's a tortoise you can get away with it. You can't be cruel to animals. As the NSCPCA we are there to protect them," he said.