Zion Wildlife Park Owner Changes Guilty Plea
Sentencing for Whangarei’s Zion Wildlife Park over the death of a big cat handler has been postponed after the operator applied to change her guilty pleas.
Dalu Mncube was mauled to death by a white tiger as park visitors watched in horror in May 2009.
The park has since been placed into receivership under PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Park operator Patricia Busch had earlier pleaded guilty to failing to take steps to prevent a hazard and failing to take steps to prevent harm in relation to Mr Mncube.
Ms Busch applied last week to Whangarei District Court to vacate her pleas, The Northern Advocate reported.
The Department of Labour, which laid the charges, told the court Ms Busch had no authority to instruct counsel and PwC lawyer Justin Toebes said her lawyer, Evgeny Orlov, had no authority to act for or represent Zion.
Judge Marie Doogue said the position adopted by the department and the receivers may be correct but the court could not ignore or reject the application.
”Assuming that all the assets of the company are now in the possession of or under the management of the receivers, that does not necessarily mean that the company’s director is deprived of all authority,” Judge Doogue ruled.
She directed Mr Orlov to file submissions to support the change of pleas application by the end of the month.
Mr Mncube, a South African, was cleaning out an enclosure housing two white tigers when one of them knocked him down and mauled him to death. The killer tiger was later put down.