Power To Institute Private Prosecutions Recognised
In a unanimous judgement handed down by Khampepe J on 08 December 2016, the Constitutional Court of South Africa set aside the decisions of the High Court (Gauteng Division, Pretoria) and the Supreme Court of Appeal and ruled that the NSPCA has the statutory power to institute private prosecutions, which power is conferred upon it by section 6(2)(e) of the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty Act 169 of 1993 read with section 8 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.
The ConCourt also ruled that the Respondents – The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and the National Director of Public Prosecutions – were to pay the NSPCAs costs in all three applications, including costs of 2 Counsel.
The NSPCA embarked on this course of legal action in late 2010 in the belief that perpetrators of animal abuse should be not allowed to get away with their crimes simply because the State prosecuting authority declines to proceed with cases against them. The case challenged the existing legislation in an endeavour to obtain the power to prosecute privately. People who commit crimes against animals should not go unpunished.
Our decision to pursue this matter to the highest authority in our country was justified. We feel vindicated and consider this a notable victory for the welfare of animals in South Africa. We shall not let them down.
The judgement recognised that the NSPCA is best placed to conduct such private prosecutions, and to give effect to enforcing the offences set out in the Animal Protection Act.
“It is noted that the National Council of SPCA’s power cannot be divorced from its functions which are intrinsically connected to protecting animal welfare and preventing associated offences.”
Of great significance is the recognition of the sentience of animals and the importance of animal protection and welfare.
Appreciation is expressed to all who undertook and pursued this action. Special thanks are given to our legal team, Advocate Kevin Hopkins, Advocate Sandra Freese and Dr Jane Marston, who is also the Vice Chairman of the Board of the National Council of SPCAs.
Click here for the full ConCourt Judgement
Click here for the full ConCourt Media Summary