In October 2012, the NSPCA was informed of a veterinarian by the name of Dr Elfreda Alberts who was in possession of a Vervet monkey that was alleged to be in extreme pain and suffering. After being denied access to her property, NSPCA inspectors obtained a warrant and found the monkey confined to a metal cage and concealed in Dr Alberts’ bedroom. The poor monkey had been cruelly maimed by Dr Alberts who severed three of the monkey’s limbs and there was a deep incision on across her abdomen. No pain medication had been administered, and the little animal was left to drag herself around the metal cage with her remaining limb.
The monkey was rescued by the NSPCA and euthanized by a veterinarian due to the extent of the injuries she was suffering from. The NSPCA initiated the prosecution of Dr Alberts and opened a case of animal cruelty against her. The NSPCA also brought the matter of gross animal cruelty by Dr Alberts to the attention of the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC). The SAVC, in turn, responded that they would only take action against Dr Alberts once the verdict on our case against her was passed, thus allowing Dr Alberts to continue operating as a licensed vet during the prosecution of the case which has taken just over eight years.
In November 2020, the sentencing of Dr. Alberts, who was found guilty for animal cruelty as well as for having an indigenous animal without a permit, was handed down as a mere fine of R10 750 or seven months imprisonment suspended for three years.
The NSPCA has filed a complaint and submitted a formal affidavit for the SAVC to take action against Dr Alberts who is still allowed to operate as a licensed veterinarian, despite being found guilty of animal cruelty. A case number has been assigned and Dr Alberts is expected to submit a response by the 5th February 2021. The SAVC will then be able to make a decision on how the complaint will be resolved through a number of options, one of which is having the complaint dismissed completely. We hope that the SAVC will fully appreciate the gravity of the offences, all of which Dr. Alberts has been convicted and sentenced for. An appropriate sanction will deter others from acting as Dr. Alberts did, and therefore, uphold the good name of the veterinary profession. The NSPCA would welcome the decision to have the complaint of unprofessional conduct referred to an inquiry (hearing) before an independent Inquiry Body, and for Dr Alberts’ license to be revoked.
“Veterinarians are amoung those who are supposed to have the welfare and best interests of animals at heart, and this was certainly not the case with Elfreda. To allow Dr Alberts to continue operating as a veterinarian despite being found guilty of animal cruelty is a great injustice to the monkey that suffered at her hands, the countless other animals that she is allowed to treat, and the people who trust her with their beloved pets and don’t know what she has done.” Said Marcelle Meredith, Executive Director of the NSPCA.