For almost a decade, the NSPCA has been pursuing one of the worst cases of farm animal abuse to date, only to be told that the perpetrators will be exonerated of all charges. In 2012, NSPCA inspectors inspected a broiler farm in Piet Retief where over THREE THOUSAND chickens were found starving to death, with severe and deep wounds across their bodies. What were these wounds caused by? Cannibalism.
The chickens were so starved that they had begun cannibalising one another in an attempt to survive, this was confirmed by a veterinarian.
For three days, our inspectors worked day and night to assist those chickens. Only one batch of food was delivered on the first day. “What I witnessed was a real life stampede. The chickens were in a feeding frenzy, jumping on top of each other in their desperate attempt to get feed.” Hundreds of the chickens had to be emergency slaughtered, and it was eventually agreed by the owners, who admitted they could no longer provide food, that all the chickens should be sent to an abattoir for slaughter.
A case of animal cruelty was registered by the NSPCA in 2012 whereby 11 suspects were charged. The case docket, filled with damning evidence, landed on the prosecutors desk, however, the prosecutor declined to prosecute. The NSPCA refused to accept this and approached the Director of Public Prosecution who helped the NSPCA get the case reinstated. Years later the case was finally heard in court.
To the NSPCAs dismay, the case was lost after being very poorly prosecuted by the Senior Public Prosecutor. All 11 of the accused were acquitted of the charges brought against them.
Thousands of chickens suffered an intolerable pain. They were starved, neglected and injured without any form of treatment or remedy provided, yet nobody was held accountable for their suffering and abuse.
The Animals Protection Act no 71 of 1962 makes ample provision for animal abusers to be held accountable for their actions. The NSPCA is concerned that the senior public prosecutor failed to prosecute the case competently, which resulted in justice being denied to those 3000 chickens. The NSPCA is in correspondence with the Director of Public Prosecution.