Pretoria News article on Cornelia & cats:
The front page of the Pretoria News newspaper of 29 April 1999, the day immediately after the Supreme Court verdict was given in favour of Cornelia and her beloved feline children:
... and zooming in a little bit on the wording of the article itself:
Accident victim wins the company of cats
Tears rolled down the face of a 28-year old Weavind Park flat resident who, after a five year battle with the body corporate of her block, heard yesterday that the Pretoria High Court would allow her to keep her three cats.
After hearing Judge Fanie Mynhardt ordering the body corporate of Kingswood flats to allow her to continue keeping her pets in her flat, jubliant family members and friends hugged Cornelia Raath.
"I am so relieved. Tom, Jerry and Charcoal are my children. I don't know what I would do without them", said Ms Raath, who suffered brian injuries after a motorcycle accident in 1996. The former CSIR electronics engineer is unable to work beacuse of her injuries and spends all her time at home with her cats. She claimed they were her life.
Ms Raath's plight came to the court's attention when the body corporate gave her and three other residents who have pets a warning to get rid of their animals within 30 days.
The court yesterday heard that Ms Raath had kept her cats in her flat since she moved there in 1994. In August that year she received a notice informing her she was not allowed to keep animals without the written permission of the body corporate.
Reasons given were that they caused a disturbance and that they soiled the lawn and passages of the building. Ms Raath then wrote a letter in which she asked permission to keep her animals. She told the body corporate that she had made special provision for the cats and they could not get out of her property.
She and the other residents continued keeping their animals, receiving notices from time to time that it was illegal to do so.
After her accident in 1996, Ms Raath's psychologist wrote a letter to the body corporate asking permission for her to keep the animals. The letters stated the cats would speed up her recovery and that she really needed to be with them. Permission to keep the animals was denied, however. Last year the residents once again received notice to remove their animals or face court proceedings.
Judge Mynhardt yesterday referred to the provisions of the board of trustees, which stated that residents must have written permission to keep an animal and that permission may not unresonably be withheld.
He said the conduct of the trustees in refusing her permission was unreasonable and unsympathetic. He ordered them to allow her to keep her pets and to pay her court costs.
Two other residents, Hilton Guerra and Kobus Swanepoel, were not as lucky. Judge Mynhardt ordered them to get rid of their animals within seven days. Judge Mynhardt said these two residents fell in another category as they had not asked for permission to keep the animals.