The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has denied one of its soldiers shot a dog during a coronavirus lockdown patrol in Parkwood, Cape Town, on Monday, which was captured on video.
Bonzo the dog later died.
SANDF communications officer Captain Thabo Sello told News24 this week the uniforms and weapons shown in a video, which was taken by a neighbour, of Bonzo’s shooting were not those worn and carried by its soldiers.
He said the SANDF also did not use rubber bullets.
This in response to information News24 received from a source who said Bonzo was struck by a rubber bullet before he died.
In the video supplied to News24, two other dogs are walking near the men, and Bonzo runs up to one of the uniformed men. Other dogs are barking in the background.
He gets close to one of the men who turns around and shoots him.
Bonzo rolls back from the impact, gets up and runs off in the direction he came from.
In the background somebody is heard saying: “Get down, get down!”
A shocked man exclaims: “They are shooting the dog!” Another man says: “That’s rubber, that’s rubber.”
The source told News24 Bonzo had collapsed and died when he got home.
“Everybody saw it happen. Bonzo has been in our family for years.”
Sello said he had also asked that operations records be checked. He said there was no SANDF operation in the given street, Abdulla Moosa Road, in the suburb on that day: Monday, March 30.
Parkwood is situated along the M5 heading toward Muizenberg from the Cape Town CBD.
He said SANDF operations are carefully logged, right down to the number of bullets issued.
He said SANDF does not use rubber bullets, and if even one live round is discharged, it has to be accounted for in a report.
“It is very serious. It could be a matter of life or death,” he said. He added that the SANDF also does not patrol without a marked vehicle immediately near its members.
He said the uniform might be that of a private security company.
He said last year the SANDF held an inquiry into a similar complaint in the Cape Town area and the soldiers were disciplined. He insisted, though, that the latest video is not related to that incident.
“We really condemn abuse against animals,” said Sello.
News24 asked Fidelity ADT (FADT), whose guards wear khaki uniforms, if they knew of the incident.
They also said it was not their personnel.
“Not our uniforms and our FADT officers don’t carry rifles,” said Charnel Hattingh, the national marketing and communications manager.
The office of Western Cape’s MEC for Safety, Albert Fritz, said that, in terms of the Disaster Act regulations, private security companies are considered an essential service and are allowed to patrol during the lockdown.
But if it wasn’t the SANDF or FADT – who shot Bonzo?
A source told News24 the shooting took place when the men were telling everybody to go inside their houses.
“Everyone was rushing inside,” they said.
It was during that commotion that Bonzo was shot.
SPCA want action
In the meantime, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA has exhumed Bonzo’s remains and have sent it to the State Veterinary Services for a post-mortem.
Inspector Jaco Pieterse said the projectile that struck the dog went “right through” and witnesses said the cartridge was picked up by the uniformed men.
He supplied a second video, which showed what appears to be soldiers, this time more than one, purportedly of the same incident.
Sello said this would be verified and requested the exact date and time that that video was taken, for further investigation.
Further comment on the new video will be added when it has been verified.
“We have also managed to find eyewitnesses and all we need now is the identity of the shooter. We are confident that it is only a matter of time before we have all we need to pursue justice for Bonzo,” the SPCA said on its Facebook page.
In a video of the SPCA’s visit to the area to investigate and to exhume Bonzo’s body, Bonzo’s owner Christalene Johannes said she was so shocked that she just stood and cried.
“There was not even a warning,” she said.
Her sister-in-law, Melissa Johannes, told News24 that she was convinced it was the SANDF because she had also seen them with police earlier in the day.
None of News24’s sources were able to identify a logo on the man’s uniform and did not see the vehicle they arrived in.
The SPCA asked that animal cruelty be reported to 021 700 4158/9 or 083 326 1604.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said: “Please be advised that Grassy Park police have no record of this incident.”