Grey gives update on investigations into ’40 days’ incident

The turkeys that were rescued by Arnold Slabbert. They were used by learners from Collegiate Girls' High School and Grey High School as part of their '40 days' prank.

The turkeys that were rescued by Arnold Slabbert. They were used by learners from Collegiate Girls’ High School and Grey High School as part of their ’40 days’ prank. Facebook/Arnold Slabbert

Grey High School has released a letter to parents yesterday, August 21, to give an update on the school’s investigation into the recent “40 days” incident of alleged animal cruelty that rocked the school and community.

According to previous reports, a group of learners at both Grey High School and Collegiate Girls’ High School took their celebrations too far by vandalising school property and allegedly “torturing” animals on August 9.

According to the recent letter, signed by Grey Rector, Christian Erasmus and SGB Chair, Garth Morris, Grey High School said that a group of their grade 12s, along with some Collegiate grade 12s, entered the school’s campus on the mentioned date with the intention of embarking on a “40 Days” raid of the school. This occurred despite being warned not to engage in this type of activity.

“Later that night, a group of our learners also entered the Collegiate Campus. Again, they had been warned not to do so. At Grey, learners who entered the school proceeded to make a horrible mess on our grounds and in some classrooms. The following morning, the grade 12s were made to clean up this mess themselves. Even boys who had not taken part in the “raid” assisted, including some in the lower grades who volunteered to do so,” the letter read.

“In addition to the mess they made, a small group of boys and girls spectated and/or participated in the release of livestock, again despite warnings not to do so, both at Grey and at Collegiate. This in particular, has caused much media attention.”

The school said that while the behaviour of the learners is unacceptable and led to animals being traumatised, for which they will be punished and will make amends appropriately, the “sadism and cruelty described in some newspapers and social media is not true.”

The school stated the following as facts in the letter:

1. One chicken was released at Collegiate. This chicken was purchased in a neglected condition with its legs already tied, its wings wrapped and with feathers missing, as seen in the pictures circulating on social media. The chicken is safe on a smallholding.

2. Two turkeys were released on the Collegiate Astro Turf. They are in the care of Arnold Slabbert (from a wildlife rescue organisation) who fetched them from Collegiate.

3. In a separate incident, four chickens were released on the Grey Campus. Two were placed in classrooms and two in the quad. Overnight, one of the chickens became caught up in the pond and was found the next morning in a very wet and bedraggled state.

4. A number of pigeons were released in the hall. The unfortunate consequence of this is that a number of these birds had to be euthanized, as they did not escape through the open windows and doors and injured themselves whilst seeking height.

“We can confirm that no chickens were plucked, kicked or drowned. Additionally, no fish were killed and there was no attempt to poison the Koi fish in the pond,” the letter stated.

It continued to state that their investigations have not found any evidence of intentional cruelty to animals, but largely a lack of empathy towards animals and an immature attitude on the part of a small group of their learners that showed a lack of understanding of the possible outcomes for their actions.

“The sad reality is that the trauma suffered by the animals released on campus, and the situation in which we now find ourselves was avoidable and must not happen again.”

The school said that they have been in contact with the Animal Anti-Cruelty League (AACL) throughout, who has provided them with important assistance and guidance.

Source: Grey High School Letter