NEWS AND COMMENT-SOUTH SUDAN: The online news media say that this is a strange incident. I would describe it in far stronger terms: it’s completely mad and it indicates a dramatic ignorance by the South Sudanese police and therefore the authorities in general in Sudan. And this is not about a difference in culture between Northern Europe and northern Africa. This is not a cultural thing; this is an education thing. It’s about knowledge, wisdom and common sense and not acting stupidly.
A cow was walking near a farm in the evening. It attacked a child. It killed the child instantly. The child was 12-year-old. Comment: this was a male cow, a bull. We know that females protect their calves. I’m not sure whether male cows protect their calves but they probably do and if not, there will be a good reason why this cow attack this child. Clearly it is very distressing for everyone concerned but from the bull’s perspective it was natural, instinctive behaviour. The bull did not make a conscious decision to attack the boy as if they were a murderer.
I am stating the obvious but it seems to me that I need to because the Sudanese police don’t understand the obvious. The police spokesman, Maj Elijah Mabor said “The bull is now under arrest at a police station in Rumbek Central County. The boy was taken to hospital for post-mortem and he was taken home for burial.”
The police officer added that: “The owner is innocent but the ‘ram’ is the one who perpetrated the crime so it deserves to be arrested.”
There was no trial for obvious reasons! But the animal was sentenced to hard labour at a military camp where it will be imprisoned for 3 years. After release it will be given to the family of the boy who was killed.
Comment: the problem with this extraordinary event is that the whole concept of criminality and committing a crime and being punished for a crime is based upon the ability of people to understand the rules, to understand that they are breach of society’s rules, and that they are in breach of the rules of morality. The idea of criminality is based upon the ability of people to be self-aware and to purposefully carry out conduct which is in breach of the criminal code. As the bull behaved instinctively and therefore correctly and entirely properly by their standards, they cannot be in breach of criminal code.
The code applies to humans not animals. They cannot be charged with a crime and therefore they cannot be arrested and they cannot be punished. You cannot punish an animal for behaving instinctively and naturally. They don’t understand the human concept of punishment. It takes a self-aware sentient being familiar with societal rules to benefit from punishment. It does not matter what the Sudanese criminal code states. It cannot logically apply to livestock.
It is entirely possible that the owner of the bull is at fault. Perhaps they are not but it is possible for a number of reasons. Or the child was at fault. Or perhaps the child’s parents were fault. But in every case, it is humans who are potentially at fault and the animal is innocent and always will be innocent.
The Sudanese police are incredibly ignorant of this basic fact. They need a very tough course of education in basic animal behaviour and the way that the criminal code works. It’s no wonder Sudan is a lousy country to live in when they behave like this.
Below are some more pages on cows.