The National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) has successfully obtained a High Court interdict against Shane Cooper, Yusuf Ismail, the South African Debate Initiative, Titon Arc Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (Pty) Ltd, Loving Life Television, and the Pit Bull Special Victims Unit SA.
The High Court, Johannesburg has ruled in favour of the NSPCA, issuing a comprehensive interdict against the first to sixth respondents, with a punitive costs order in favour of the NSPCA, to prevent the publication, dissemination, or re-publication of defamatory statements, false allegations, posts, memes, comments, video clips, or sound clips targeting the NSPCA and its members. The respondents are specifically prohibited from sharing recorded interviews that contain defamatory content, as outlined in the court order.
The court order includes the following key points:
- Prohibition on Publishing Defamatory Statements: The respondents are restrained from publishing or disseminating any defamatory statements related to the NSPCA.
- Restriction on Republishing: The respondents are prohibited from re-publishing any statements that promote or encourage others to publicise defamatory content about the NSPCA.
- Removal of Existing Publications: The respondents are required to remove all publications related to the NSPCA within 10 days from the date of the court order.
- Prevention of Defamatory Statements: The respondents are restrained from making untrue statements or defaming the NSPCA in the public domain.
The NSPCA emphasises that while freedom of speech is a fundamental right, it is not without limitations. The right to express oneself should not infringe upon the rights of others or be used to disseminate false and defamatory information.
The legal action taken by the NSPCA was prompted by a series of interviews conducted by Yusuf Ismail with Shane Cooper, initially on 29 January 2023, followed by subsequent interviews involving Scott Balson of Loving Life. A total of eight interviews were published, containing false and defamatory statements directed at the NSPCA.
During these interviews, baseless allegations were made, including labelling the NSPCA as the “mafia of animal welfare”. The NSPCA emphasises that it is committed to its animal welfare mission and does not engage in theatrical sideshows.
The Constitutional Court has previously recognised the NSPCA as the foremost organisation in the field of animal welfare, underscoring its long-established authority and transparency.
Marcelle Meredith, Executive Director of the NSPCA, expresses concern that false accusations could undermine the organisation’s ability to fulfil its vital mission. The NSPCA views the court’s decision as a validation of its standing and a deterrent against defamatory conduct.
The NSPCA urges the public to support its ethical and transparent efforts in safeguarding the welfare of animals in South Africa.
— END —
Public Relations & Legal Liaison
National Council of SPCAs
082 828 0337