Tears for Topaz, pig who roamed too far

16 October 2016 - 01:52 By SHELLEY SEID

Six months ago nine-year-old Bella Croxon finally got the pet pig she had been begging for. The miniature potbelly was flown in from Cape Town and Bella fell in love with her instantly, naming the pig "Topaz" and cuddling her pet incessantly.And then a neighbour shot Topaz.Bella has been unable to sleep since the shooting last Saturday and her mother, Paula Croxon, has arranged for her daughter to see a counsellor.Croxon - a single mother and landscaper from Himeville just outside Underberg - has spent the past week trying to take action against the man who shot their pet pig.Topaz - who at six months old was the size of a staffie - was fine as a piglet but in August she started digging around and would break through the wooden fencing into the property of neighbours Robbie and Anna La Grange."It kept breaking through the fence; it dug up my entire yard, it damaged my water pipes; it bit my dog and it charged my wife when she was pregnant which resulted in her taking a fall," said Robbie La Grange.He said they phoned Croxon several times and asked her to come and fetch her pig. If she wasn't at home she sent her domestic worker, Pretty Mbanjwa.But by September La Grange had had enough and asked Garth Nortje, manager of the Sani SPCA, to intervene.Nortje left a note for Croxon on September 26 telling her to make arrangements to contain Topaz.Croxon agreed via SMS to do so and made improvements to the fence, but had not finished building an electrified pen when, last Saturday, she and Bella went to visit friends in the Sani Valley.There was no one at home when Topaz again broke through the fence.Anna La Grange claimed that Topaz chased her three-year-old nephew, bit a young puppy and was behaving uncontrollably. Anna tried phoning Croxon - but there is no cellphone coverage in Sani Valley, so she went next door only to discover that Mbanjwa was also out.She then phoned her husband. He came home and told his wife and her sister to take the children out as planned.La Grange said he called Rob Stayt, the community watch communication officer, to inform him he was "going to euthanise a pig". The information that a shot was going to be fired was logged at the communication centre.When the neighbour on the other side, octogenarian Ann McBean, heard the shot, she went outside."I watched him shoot it. I screamed at him. The pig was standing still and he went over and pushed it to the ground. I screamed at him: 'Your other dogs used to live on my property and dig up my garden but I didn't shoot them.'"I would call this plain, bloody murder. It was horrible to see it and it upset me very much," McBean said.La Grange went to the local police station and made a statement about the incident; he then drove the carcass to the SPCA where Nortje said they had no morgue facilities. La Grange arranged with local farmers to bury the body. He later heard they burnt it.When Croxon and Bella arrived home that evening they looked everywhere for Topaz."When I switched my phone on in the morning I found that he had sent a text the evening before saying what he had done. I asked for the body. We wanted closure."According to Nortje, under the Animal Protection Act the onus is on the owner to keep an animal secured."I believe the animal lost its life because the owner was negligent. She was given an opportunity to remedy the situation - she chose not to. La Grange told me the pig was endangering the lives of children. He was within his rights to shoot it."La Grange said he and his wife had tried repeatedly to call Nortje to remove the pig, but the SPCA official said he had no missed calls that day, despite being in the area and in range.Croxon laid charges of malicious damage to property and negligent discharge of a firearm. However, after investigating the claim, the local prosecutor declined to press charges."Topaz was funny and she made us laugh," said Bella. "She was sweet and innocent. How could they shoot her?"shelleys@sundaytimes.co.za

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