Justice still sought for Lily, dog buried alive in Cape Town


In 2011 animal lovers around the world were horrified by the news that a dog had been buried alive at a Cape Town school as punishment for being a stray. Nearly four years later, the case is back in court. Here is an update from Marcelle du Plessis of IFAW’s Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

After many months of frustration as we fought the case for Lily, the warrior dog that was saved before being buried alive, there is at last light at the end of the tunnel.

The school principal of Luhlaza Secondary School Khayelitsha, who was found guilty of ordering janitors to bury a dog alive on the school grounds, appeared in the Khayelitsha Magistrate's Court in the last week of March for not complying with his punishment. 

On 20 October 2011 Manono Makhaphela had ordered two janitors to “get rid” of the stray dog regarded as a nuisance. The school’s kitchen cleaner who witnessed what was happening called Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha, and two of our staff rushed to save Lily who had been buried in a 1.5-meter deep pit. By the time they managed to dig her out she had been under the ground for just over 20 minutes.

Makhaphela’s punishment was a fine of ZAR6,000.00, ZAR3,000.00 payable immediately and the other half suspended for a period of five years on the condition that he implement  an animal protection awareness programme at the school no later than 18 July 2013. Mdzananda supported the animal education program as this would enable hundreds of children to be exposed to animal education.

Now nearly two years later, only ZAR1,000.00 has been paid and no education programme has been started. 

Frustrated that no punishment had been served, the Mdzananda Animal Clinic reported the case to the National Prosecuting Authority in 2014. We were low on hope that anything would be done so it was with great joy that we received a phone call early in 2015 with the news that the principal had been arrested and jailed, and a court date had been set.

Jane Levinson, the Mdzananda Animal Clinic project manager, was asked to appear in court on the 31st of March to testify against Makhaphela. She said that it was a long, tiring day, but that it ended with hope. The principal has been made aware that he has a criminal record and that he now has until 18 July 2015 to start a humane education program if he wants the record to be removed.

At last he seems to understand what it will be like to live with a criminal record and is showing some form of co-operation. 

We are thankful for the NPA for taking this action and hope that Makhaphela will comply. He will need to send a progress report to the Mdzananda Animal Clinic every six months for five years based on the progress of his education programme.

We are hoping that this will be the start of justice for Lily, but we are very aware that we have to keep a close eye on him.

Today Lily is a healthy, happy dog and a much loved member of the family of one of Mdzananda’s board members. We thought IFAW’s supporters would be interested in this update, particularly as so many of you helped us make “Lily Quilts” to keep Mdzananda’s furry patients warm through the winter.

­We will keep fighting for justice for Lily, no matter how many years it takes. This is not just about one dog but about setting a precedent for future animal cruelty cases. 


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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy