Najwa Petersen’s son and co ordered to pay fine for keeping lion as pet
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Cape Town - While Najwa Petersen is eligible for parole next year, her son, Sulaiman Effendi and a co-accused paid R20 000 each or faced 12 months imprisonment after they were charged under the Endangered Species Act for keeping a lion cub as a pet.
This week, the Weekend Argus can exclusively reveal Effendi and Shurud Jacobs were handed down the sentence after entering into a plea and sentencing agreement with the State at the Khayelitsha Priority Crimes Court in July. Their co-accused, Rayaan Simons had this charges withdrawn.
According to official court documents where Jacobs entered into a plea and sentence agreement, he stated he had purchased the lion cub via an advertisement for the purpose of a Lion King birthday party theme and that he had given the animal to Effendi to look after.
“He admits that he took possession of the Lion cub on August 19, 2019. He admits that he knew that a lion cub is a protected wild animal. He admits that he knew that he needed a permit. He admits that the person from which he acquired the Lion cub did not have a permit.”
Equally Effendi makes the same admissions that he was asked to keep the animal for his friend: “The Accused admits that on 19 August 2019 he was requested by a friend to keep a wild animal, a lion cub, at his residence till August 21, 2019 in captivity. He admits that he took possession of the Lion cub on August 19, 2019.”
Animal rights and welfare organizations said they were outraged by the punishment the duo received because the cub had paid for its life.
Eric Ntabazalila, the spokesperson of the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed that the duo had entered into a plea and sentencing agreement and that investigations revealed the cub had legally been bred in captivity and sold.
“The lions were legally bred in captivity and sold, transported and possessed in Cape Town without a permit. It was not a cub that was captured in the wild and sold,” the document read.
The case made headlines in 2019, after the police’s Stock and Endangered Species Unit found the lion cub at Effendi’s home in Athlone.
The police were responding to a tip-off and during court proceedings it was revealed that the investigating officer travelled to Limpopo where they compared DNA of the lion cub.
The cub was transported from Thabazimbi and found in Athlone on August 21, 2019.
The police’s evidence was further fuelled when a photograph of the cub being held by Effendi, who was mimicking a scene out of the movie, The Lion King, went viral on social media.
A video also circulated showcasing the cub walking in a garage around vehicles.
The trio faced 14 charges in total relating to the protection of wild animals.
The cub had been purchased for an estimated R50 000.
Soon after the cub’s rescue and capture, Cape Nature confirmed, they were forced to euthanize the four-month-old cub because it would not be able to adapt to the wild.
Allan Perrins of the Animal Welfare Society of South Africa said sadly the cub had paid with his life while his alleged captors received a laughable punishment.
The sentence is hopelessly inadequate as a deterrent. I would go as far as saying that it is laughable especially given the tragic fate of the lion cub who paid with its life for human indiscretion.
“These pathetic sentences make a mockery of our conservation legislation that is meant to protect our natural heritage. Lions are commercialised and exploited. Treated like commodities and sold to the highest bidder. The bottom line is wild animals belong in the wild.”
He added that wild animals belonged in the wild and that no-one was allowed to keep it unless they had a permit that is issued by CapeNature.
“Lion cubs should never be compared to kittens. They are dangerous wild animals and cannot be domesticated. Keeping a lion as a pet is a bit like playing Russian Roulette.”