Stay of execution for lions

Elisha Molefe

Elisha Molefe

Ten lions that devoured a nine- year-old boy on a farm near Vryburg, North West, have been reprieved.

Lions, valued at an estimated R3,5million, were supposed to be put down by the Department of Environment and Nature Conservation last week.

Spokesman for the department, Lesego Mcwango, said the department is still waiting for the legal proceedings to unfold.

"Ten lions were taken to a place of safety but at this stage we are not at liberty to divulge their exact location," said Mcwango.

She further stated that the other 55 lions will be confiscated from the farm.

According to Captain Charlize van der Linden, it appeared that Tshepo Gaorupi had put his arm through a gap near the gate of the lion enclosure. One of the lions then grabbed him and pulled him into the camp. Only a small piece of the boy's skull remained intact. Van der Linden said no charges were considered at this stage as no foul play was suspected, but said the police will look at regulations in terms of lion enclosures.

Sowetan had learnt that the farmer was operating illegally after his licence had expired on June 14. This was corroborated by Mcwango.

Meanwhile, Cosatu in North West condemned "the attitude of the MEC of agriculture and the white official who advised him to withdraw the decision to kill the lions".

"Those lions are not more important than the life of Tshepo Gaorupi. The withdrawal indicates to the people of North West that the MEC and its official advisers respect the lives of lions more than those of a human being," said Cosatu provincial secretary Solly Phetoe.