Criminal charges have been laid against three Randburg teenage girls and a boy who allegedly tormented a mouse with a lit cigarette before spraying it with aerosol and setting it on fire. All four Johannesburg teenagers implicated this week in the torture of a trapped mouse have pets of their own, it has emerged.
All four Johannesburg teenagers implicated this week in the torture of a trapped mouse have pets of their own, it has emerged.
"They all have animals or pets at home. One of them is even in a home used by a breed rescue club, and dogs of that particular breed are highly sensitive," Randburg SPCA inspector Phillip Roberts told Independent Newspapers on Friday, in what he said was the "scariest part of this disgusting story".
The three teenage girls and a boy who are alleged to have been involved in the incident where a cellphone video was made of a mouse being prodded with a lit cigarette, then having aerosol sprayed on it before it was set alight with a cigarette lighter, face possible jail terms and stiff fines.
The white mouse had allegedly been purchased from a Northgate pet shop shortly before it was placed inside a cardboard box where it was tortured whilst the video was being made .
It is alleged that this was the second mouse to have suffered a painful death at the hands of the youths. They are alleged to have previously bought and tortured another mouse, before deciding to re-enact the "gruesome deed" and capture it on film.
On the recording, a girl can be heard saying: "I'm filming, I'm filming."
Roberts says it was a teacher at the school the teens attended who confiscated the cellphone and handed it over to the SPCA.
"Our first reaction was shock, revulsion and disbelief. In almost 24 years of animal welfare I have never seen anything so cold, calculating and premeditated.
Clinical psychologist Ali Peirson, who specialises in treating adolescents, said children carry around intense emotions during adolescence and if they do not have an appropriate outreach they will display aggression.
"This is a classic case of delinquent behaviour. "Teenagers display this kind of aggression when their lives are not managed properly. "These are still children but on the other hand, they are at a stage in their lives when they must take responsibility for the harm that they have caused," said Peirson.
Criminal charges under the Animal Protection Act have officially been laid against all four youths and if found guilty by a court, each faces a four-year jail term or a fine of up to R20 000.
"Obviously, the actual penalties imposed will be up to the magistrate concerned, but the fact that in the event of a conviction, the perpetrators will carry a criminal record for the rest of their lives alone should be a deterrent to any other person who ever considers committing a crime against animals.
"It is time the general public, and in this case teenagers, realise there are consequences for their actions, and that they are answerable for their deeds," said Roberts.
SPCA investigates teens for mouse 'snuff movie'
Vivian Mooki | Johannesburg, South Africa
20 July 2006 07:53
Three Randburg teenage girls and a boy are being questioned by animal anti-cruelty authorities after they allegedly tormented a mouse with a lit cigarette before spraying it with an aerosol can and setting it on fire. The group was caught out after a video recorded on a cellphone landed at the offices of the the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Randburg.
"The national council of the SPCA was horrified and disgusted to see the torture of an animal recorded on the cellphone of a 15-year-old female," SPCA senior inspector Phillip Roberts said.
"The 'snuff movie' also included the sound of juvenile girls shrieking with laughter as the small animal was tormented with a lit cigarette and set alight."
He said the mouse, bought at a Northgate pet shop, was confined in a cardboard box.
"The recording goes on to show the mouse running around inside the box as it is being sprayed with an aerosol, and then set alight with a pocket cigarette lighter," Roberts said.
"As the mouse is being burnt, a female voice is heard on the footage saying: 'I'm filming.'"
He said the mouse was still alive when the recording ended.
"Investigations continue but it is confirmed that criminal charges will be laid against the girls. There is no way that this incident can be excused, condoned or overlooked in any way," Roberts said.
He said the SPCA believed it would be failing in its duty to society if it didn't lay charges. It also appeared the teenagers had tortured another mouse just before buying the one they filmed.
"The footage of the torture of a defenceless animal, purchased from a pet shop specifically for this purpose was a knowing, calculated and callous action. At any point, any one of them could have stopped what was happening, but the sound effects reveal they egged each other on to further and greater cruelty," Roberts said.
He said investigations into the family backgrounds of those involved in the abuse will also be conducted.
"Liaison is taking place with psychologists and psychiatrists as well as educational authorities."
They faced a fine of up to R20 000 or four months' imprisonment if they were brought before a court and found guilty.
"The public prosecutor still has to decide whether to prosecute them or not, and it will then be up to the magistrate to impose a sentence if found guilty."
Roberts said the "horrific" abuse of a defenceless animal was not the first carried out by "legal minors".
"In 2005 there were several serious cases of animal abuse by young adults attending schools or places of learning.
"This most recent event encapsulates and demonstrates what the SPCA movement refers to as 'first strike'... the scientifically-proven theory that those who abuse animals, especially in their youth, are likely to go on to other violent crimes committed against the vulnerable in our communities," he said. - Sapa
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