Zion faces four charges over dead employee
17th January 2010
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Four charges laid by the Department of Labour after the death of animal handler Dalu Mncube at the Zion Wildlife Gardens will be heard in the Whangarei District Court next week.
Mr Mncube was killed by a tiger while cleaning its enclosure in May last year.
His death was a major blow for the wildlife park on the outskirts of Whangarei, which had gained world fame through the Lion Man television series.
Department of Labour communications adviser Eric Janse van Rensburg yesterday declined to specify who or what "entity" the charges had been laid against.
"As the matter is before the court the department will make no further comment," he said.
But the Northern Advocate understands all charges have been laid against Zion Wildlife Gardens as an entity and no individuals have been charged.
Two charges have been laid under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act for "failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work".
The other charges were laid under Section 16 of the act for "failing to take all practicable steps to ensure no hazard that is, or arises in, the place of work harms people who are lawfully at work as employees of a contractor".
Zion spokeswoman Sara Reid could not be contacted to comment on the charges yesterday, but she had earlier said they would be strenuously defended.
Tourists had watched in horror as Mr Mncube, 26, was fatally mauled by a 260kg white tiger while he and another keeper were cleaning the animal's enclosure.
The second keeper had tried to use a length of wood to beat the tiger off the stricken man until another staff member was able to shoot the big cat dead. The wildlife park was closed by government officials because of safety and animal welfare issues.
But Whangarei-born Tim Husband was brought over from Australia to lead the park's recovery and just under a month later it re-opened with rules preventing staff from having direct contact with adult animals.