The NSPCA’s Battle Against the Live Export of Animals to the Middle East

Judgement/Order for the export of 56 000 sheep to Kuwait. The sheep are currently being loaded and the ship will depart either 23 or 24 June 2021.


It has been a long and trying year for the NSPCA as we continue to fight against a trade that is inherently cruel. We have lost battles and we have won – but the war is far from over.

The undeniable suffering that these animals experience during these journeys to the Middle East is both unnecessary and unacceptable.

Animals are essentially transported in vessels and remain in transit for up to 21 days. Traveling through immense heat, in a completely unnatural environment with inappropriate feed and often soiled water troughs, for those that are able to access them.

The vessel is not cleaned out for the entire journey so the sheep are forced to live in their own excrement, with inadequate ventilation that does little to cool the sheep, as the boiling hot air from outside the vessel is simply introduced in the vessel and re-circulated. The lights remain on for the entire journey and the noise levels are over 100 decibels (which is akin to a bass drum) which means that the animals suffer stress due to the exhaustion of not being able to rest.

Gases such as ammonia, carbon dioxide and methane are common place due to the primitive nature of the exhaust on aged converted vessels, which according to insurance agencies are much older than other vessels in the global fleet. The off-gassing is exacerbated by the breakdown of hard faces when the vessels go through very humid locations in the ocean.

Disease is commonplace owing to the unhygienic environment, with re-circulated air spreading pathogens throughout the decks.

While the NSPCA does not accept the mortality percentage as an indicator of welfare, it is the most extreme indicator, nevertheless, on board veterinarians are unable to diagnose what animals died of onboard due to advanced autolysis (“rotten”). Continuing into 2020, this may be the most barbaric aspect. If the sheep were only discovered in this state, one has to wonder how long they were sick undetected for, dying a slow agonizing death.

These are just a few of the concerns involved in this type of transport, the animals endure a treacherous journey of cruelty only to be slaughtered without the protection they would receive in South Africa when they reach their final destination.


With your donation we are able to continue the fight against the live export of animals from our harbours across the equator!

Together, lets stand against animal cruelty!

Timeline of Events to Date

JUNE - OCT 2019

NSPCA met with Al Mawashi and informs Al Mewashi that we are opposed to live export and will act accordingly.

NSPCA launches an awareness campaign and petition gaining 80 000+ signatures in the first two weeks.

The Vessel arrives and loads the sheep. The NSPCA lay criminal charges for cruelty that was observed during loading.

FEB - MAY 2020

NSPCA launched an urgent application to the High Court. The case was struck off the roll due to procedural issues.

The Vessel arrives and loads the sheep – the NSPCA’s warrant is overturned and replaced with a court order.

National and Eastern Cape Government confirm that they are against shipments during the Middle Eastern Summer months.

JUNE 2020

The NSPCA applied for an Urgent Interdict upon the unexpected arrival of Al Mawashi’s vessel.

The matter is heard on 9 June and the Judge ruled in favour of the NSPCA.

Al Mawashi applied again to the interim interdict set aside. The Judge ruled against Al Mawashi and the Interim Interdict stands.

AUG - NOV 2020

Judge Dabuka handed down an order, allowing Al Mawashi and KLTT, to export no more than 56,000 sheep over the equator on the Al Messilah vessel in the hottest month of the year.

The Judge ordered that the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development monitor the loading process and provide reports to the court. This is the same Department that the NSPCA has laid animal cruelty charges against in previous shipments.

The vessel left SA on 5 September 2020. Two criminal charges were laid against the exporters.

Written reasons for the order was received from the Grahamstown High Court, The application was not dismissed nor granted, it seems to have been an impractical compromise. The NSPCA’s legal team launched an application for leave to appeal.

Acting Judge Dukuda declined the NSPCA’s application for leave to appeal. This leaves the NSPCA no choice but to approach the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.