In a joint statement issued on 21 July 2020 by the Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO), Agri SA, Agri Northern Cape and Agri Eastern Cape, the RPO extended its support of the live export trade as long as it would be ethically undertaken – the idea of ethics and live export will never be reciprocal as they are direct contraries. It is also a known fact that independent observers do not always travel on these vessels. “Live animal export by sea is a trade which is fundamentally unprincipled given the undeniable and unavoidable animal suffering that takes place on board these ships,” said Ms Marcelle Meredith, CEO of the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA).

The NSPCA, whilst still astonished, is profoundly disturbed by statements submitted by the RPO. We have not been privy to the reports, however, we have serious concerns regarding the fact that two veterinarians who conducted inspections on behalf of the Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) have found that the vessel and feedlot are compliant. “On what basis was the vessel and feedlot found to be compliant?” said Ms M Meredith. More interesting is that the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) recognises animals as sentient beings that are capable of experiencing both positive and negative states, SAVA, therefore, does not support live export of animal by sea for the purposes of slaughter upon arrival when humane alternatives are available, which contradicts the RPO’s statement, “It is further their (the two veterinarians) opinion that the sheep should be loaded as soon as possible”.

According to the RPO website, the organisation represents the interests of red meat producers on the Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) on which all institutions involved in the value chain of the red meat industry are represented, and consists of:

The South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO); Red Meat Abattoir Association (RMAA); South African Feedlot Association (SAFA); South African Federation of Livestock Agents (SAFLA); National Federation of Meat Traders (NFMT); South African Meat Processors Association (SAMPA); South African National Consumers’ Union (SANCU); Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AMIE); South African Hides, Skins and Leather Council (SHALC); National Emerging Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (NERPO); South African Meat Distributors and Allied Workers’ Union (SAMAU); RPO Large Stock; RPO Small Stock.


The RPO claims to be the authoritative voice for red meat producers in South Africa. They also outright support the “ethical” trade of live export, despite the possible cruelty these animals may suffer. We have to ask ourselves if they can support this type of practice, what else do they support that may be harmful to the animals that consumers eat.

“Due to gross contraventions in terms of the Animals Protection Act, 71 of 1962, the NSPCA registered criminal dockets relating to the 2019 and 2020 Middle East exports, which are currently under investigation by the South African Police Services. The Animals Protection Act (71 of 1962) is the relevant and primary statute relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals,” said Ms M Meredith.

“We remind our proponents that we make our way back to the Grahamstown High Court on 06 August 2020 to continue our fight for an interdict to stop the live export of sheep by sea pending the big fight for a perpetual injunction. The indisputable suffering that these animals experience during these journeys to the Middle East is both avoidable and deplorable and your support is crucial in overcoming ever increasing expenses enabling us to continue advocating on behalf of these sentient beings,” stated Ms M Meredith.

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