The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) is currently monitoring the loading of 50 000 sheep destined for the Middle East. Inspectors are at the feedlot in Berlin and the East London Harbour. Cruel handling, stocking concerns and unsheared animals have been observed. These are contraventions of both the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962, and the OIE standards which the exporters were ordered to adhere to by the High Court last week.

The loading started on the morning of Sunday, 30 August 2020, and abhorrent cruelty has been witnessed by the NSPCA Inspectors. Handlers employed by Al Mawashi and KLTT kicked and dragged the sheep by the ears, and punched sheep in the face in front of our Inspectors. This happened at both the feedlot and the harbour. Several warnings have been issued.

Furthermore, sheep have not been sheared. This at a time of the year when they are travelling into excessive heat. Sheep are also overweight and already lethargic and are being “stuffed” into pens on the ship – the exporters claim that they will be reshuffled en route to Kuwait.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development was ordered by the High Court to oversee the process. Yet, they felt it appropriate to allocate two newly qualified veterinarians to control an operation of this magnitude. It has mainly been left to the expertise of the NSPCA to intervene when the Animals Protection Act and OIE standards are being contravened.

While NSPCA Inspectors have been at the coal face, and the sheep have been treated cruelly, the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development & Agrarian Reform held a celebratory function in East London. MEC Nomakhosazana Meth and the department revered this brutal trade.

Al Mawashi also obtained a permit for essential services, allowing them to load sheep throughout the night – we question why this has been considered necessary.

The NSPCA will be laying criminal charges of animal cruelty against those that are involved. Some of these handlers already have cases of animal cruelty against them.

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