Following the harrowing days spent at the East London harbour by Inspectors of the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) when some 60 000 sheep were loaded for shipment to the Middle East, the NSPCA is finally in a position to confirm that criminal charges in terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962 have been laid. The charges were laid against the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) as well as Eastern Cape Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Al Mawashi – the owners of the Al Shuwaikh vessel, who have a company in South Africa, the captain of the Al Shuwaikh, the Page Farming Trust, and individuals from the Page Farming Trust.
In October 2019, despite a campaign by the NSPCA against the live export of some 60 000 sheep to the Middle East, the South African Government approved the export. The NSPCA monitored the loading process and contraventions in terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962 were observed and documented by the NSPCA Inspectors and Inspectors from various Eastern Cape SPCAs.
Conditions on board the Al Shuwaikh, included dangerously high ammonia levels on some of the enclosed decks, dirty conditions including faeces in the food and water troughs, together with other serious welfare concerns. On the dock and feedlot animals were treated in an inhumane manner, and attempts were made to load sick, injured and lame animals onto the vessel. These sentient beings meant nothing to the officials and exporters. “Our pleas to treat the animals humanely fell on deaf ears,” said Grace De Lange, Manager of the NSPCA’s Farm Animal Protection Unit. Seeing the suffering of these sheep even before their departure, and watching the Al-Shuwaikh depart was heartbreaking, but it has also affirmed the NSPCA’s determination to advocate for justice on their behalf.
“The NSPCA has received criticism that it has taken too long to lay the charges for animal cruelty. Preparing separate dockets for the feedlot, the harbour and the vessel carrying the sheep has involved the collation of valuable evidence from 15 staff members. Carefully completed dockets with the relevant evidence have been handed over to the South African Police Services who will now only be required to obtain statements from the accused” explained de Lange.
The NSPCA also met with their legal counsel who has confirmed that the NSPCA has a case for the High Court. The intention is not only to ensure that the Al-Shuwaikh does not return to our shores, but also to challenge the issue of exporting live animals by sea.
The NSPCA believes that live export by sea is completely unacceptable and unnecessary.
The costs incurred thus far have been exorbitant and we have a long road ahead. With donations from caring South Africans and international supporters, we are hopeful that we will be in a financial position to proceed with this landmark case. We stand together against this animal cruelty.
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