A WAR of words has erupted between a former Cape Town DA leader and one of the party's MPs over a councillor who starved her pet dog to near death.
Nikki Botha, a former DA constituency secretary in Cape Town's Gardens suburb, warned that the DA risked losing the votes of animal lovers over its refusal to expel councillor Caroline Wood.
Wood, the DA councillor for Greyton-Genadendal, about 200km from Cape Town, was last year reported to have chained her dog - Lady - and left it without food and water for a few days.
The chain the dog was tied up with was too short for her to reach her puppies, some of whom starved to death.
The Karoo Animal Protection Society told the media that Lady's "skeletal condition" showed that she had "suffered continuous neglect for a very long time, possibly her whole life". Wood is now facing criminal charges.
A leaked document from the DA's disciplinary committee shows that the party did not charge Wood with animal cruelty but with "bringing the party into disrepute".
The DA's deputy national police spokesperson, MP Debbie Schafer, chaired the hearing and found that Wood had "not acted deliberately" in mistreating the dog.
Schafer sentenced Wood to eight hours a month community service for a year, saying that Wood was "in every other respect an excellent councillor".
"Eight hours a month for a year is a lot of time to be spent by a very busy councillor doing something she is not doing by choice," Schafer wrote.
A furious Botha quit the DA, telling Schafer: "I'm gobsmacked that you still think this woman is a good councillor. This good councillor apparently needs to be taught not to allow a dog to starve to death."