The curious case of the misunderstood goat

17 October 2017 - 06:16 By The Times Editorial
A male dwarf goat. File photo.
A male dwarf goat. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

A seven-year-old boy from Woodstock in Cape Town loves animals and dreams about becoming a veterinarian one day.

So, as a treat, his parents arranged a petting zoo for his birthday, as many parents like them have done before. But little did this specific birthday boy's folks know their son's party would soon become a mirror of our society, smudged by the ignorance we hold about our fellow South Africans.

While the family was happily celebrating his birthday in a public park in Cape Town, with permission from authorities, a woman took her dogs for a walk in the same park.

For Megan Furniss, the woman walking her dogs, this was clearly a slaughterhouse scene. She took to Facebook, instantly sparking social media hysteria. "Help!" she yelped. "There is a goat tied to a pole in the children's park in Queens Park. Huge crowd of people. Goat is screaming. Help!"

It did not take her Facebook friends long to a) decide the goat would be slaughtered; b) say maybe the goat had already been slaughtered (after someone caught the whiff of a braai - really); c) call the SCPCA; and d) call the police.

As the goat brigade worked themselves up, a Siraj Waggie joined the conversation. He was the father of the birthday boy. He explained the situation to Furniss and her fretting Facebook friends. He mentioned that he probably saw Furniss in the park. And then he said: "No one approached us to ask or find out about the goat and other animals. Yet they all found it fair and their right as saviours of humanity to accuse us of many ills."

This is the crux of it: No one asked.

Furniss has since apologised to him. Perhaps if she had started speaking to him, she would have found they share a love for animals. Waggie's response on social media was gracious: "... may you find inner peace and focus your energy on creating a better South Africa for all." Say no more.