The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA), on the request of the South African Government, undertook an inspection of the empty Al-Shuwaikh vessel on Sunday, 23 September 2019, and found the vessel to be unsuitable to transport 61 000 sheep – the inspection confirmed that there is cause for major welfare concerns and unavoidable contraventions of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962 and OIE (the World Organisation of Animal Health of which South Africa is a member) minimum standards.

For the purposes of transparency, the NSPCA was invited to inspect the vessel with representatives of the Department of Agriculture on Friday, 20 September 2019, but were unable to secure flights to East London. The Department then requested that the NSPCA undertake an independent inspection and submit a report on their findings which has now been done.

On Sunday, 22 September 2019, the NSPCA attempted to fulfil the request of the government but were denied access onto the vessel and were required to enforce their warrant, with the assistance of the South African Police Services (SAPS), to access the ship.

On 23 September 2019, SPCA Inspectors arrived at the feedlot where the 61 000 sheep are being kept until loading. The Inspectors were denied access in spite of being in possession of a warrant – this is the second time in two days that Al Mawashi have disregarded the warrants that have been issued to the NSPCA and SPCA representatives. After finally gaining entry with the intervention of the SAPS, the Inspectors had to euthanase a sheep due to it reportedly having a fractured leg. There were other animals that were limping and that had eye infections. This is an indication of the way animals will be left to suffer on board this vessel.

The NSPCA are considering laying charges for obstruction for both counts for disregarding a warrant from a Magistrate and charges in terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962.

The NSPCA believes that live export by sea for the purposes of slaughter is completely unacceptable and unnecessary and that the use of the Al Shuwaikh will result in serious contraventions of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962. If the Government allow this shipment to go – they would do so in full knowledge that animals will suffer unnecessarily. The responsibility therefore lies with the Government to prevent this cruelty from occurring by upholding the law of South Africa.

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