Inquiry Held into Thandi Modise’s Failure to Appear in Court for Animal Cruelty Charges

INQUIRY HELD INTO THANDI MODISE’S FAILURE TO APPEAR IN COURT FOR ANIMAL CRUELTY CASE

The Speaker of the House of Parliament, Thandi Modise, failed to appear in the Potchefstroom Regional Court in March where her trial was expected to begin following the gruesome discovery of starving animals on her farm in 2014. On 1 July 2020, the Potchefstroom Magistrate’s Court held an inquiry to establish whether or not the accused should be held in contempt of court.

Thandi Modise appeared in the Potchefstroom Magistrate’s Court on 1 July 2020 to explain her failure to appear for her trial set down for 23-26 March 2020. The COVID-19 disaster and impending lockdown was the reason for her failure to appear stating that she could not delegate her duties to her deputy as the law did not permit this.

Advocate Gerrie Nel of Afriforum, acting on behalf of the National Council of SPCAs, argued that this was not the first time that Modise failed to appear in court and she had failed to appear in court in June 2019, also due to important work commitments, however, the court accepted Modise’s justification.

Although the court accepted this due to the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic – the inquiry, which was initiated by the court itself, established that no one is above the law and that the accused needs to act responsibly going forward.

The trial date has been set for 1-3 December 2020.  The NSPCA hopes that there will be no further delays, it took the prosecuting authority over 2 years to decline to prosecute this case.  It is fortunate that the NSPCA was granted the powers to prosecute by the Constitutional Court.  No person is beyond the law.

We thank the Afriforum legal team.

History

The NSPCA was approached by Advocate Gerrie Nel to take this case on a private prosecution after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) declined to prosecute the case in 2017 – claiming that there was insufficient evidence.

In July 2014 the NSPCA obtained a warrant to inspect the animals on a farm in the North West Province belonging to Thandi Modise, this was after receiving a tip-off that animals on the property had been abandoned.

Modise’s farm was littered with the carcasses of over 50 pigs and other dead animals, such as geese, ducks, sheep, and goats.

Over 100 pigs, sheep, chickens and goats were found without food and water and the animals were found dead and dying. The animals were so desperately hungry, they were feeding off carcasses, cannibalising, and eating new born young. It was one of the cruellest cases of animal abuse that the NSPCA had come across. These animals were denied basic minimum care and suffered neglect, and starvation.

Sincere appreciation for Advocate Gerrie Nel, and AfriForum for pursuing this case with us.