Nica Richards
Deputy online news editor
3 minute read
20 Oct 2020
12:55 pm

Convenience trumps animal welfare, NSPCA says of live export case 

Nica Richards

Regardless of the latest ruling, the NSPCA said they are committed to continue pursuing an 'outright ban' for the live export of sheep 'from South Africa across the equator'.

The NSPCA’s last court appearance saw the temporary prohibition of live sheep exports by sea, postponing the treacherous journey around 56 000 sheep were set to endure aboard the multi-decked Al Messilah vessel. Photo for illustration: Jo-Anne McArthur/Israel Against Live Exports

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) finally received correspondence from the Grahamstown High Court regarding their fight to prevent the live export of sheep, they confirmed in a statement on Tuesday. 

The NSPCA and international meat production and trade company Al Mawashi entered into a court battle earlier this year. 

Al Mawashi and a subsidiary of Kuwait-listed company KLTT were in favour of exporting 51,000 live sheep and 650 cattle. 

The NSPCA said the planned live export in September should be postponed, as the journey from East London to Kuwait would take place during one of the hottest months of the year. 

The NSPCA’s Part A application was set aside on 25 August, which gave Al Mawashi’s Al Messilah vessel the go-ahead to transport the sheep and cattle. 

Al Mawashi said it welcomed reasons for the court’s ruling in Part A of the NSPCA’s application. 

“Significantly, the regulatory authorities at the times they inspected the sheep did not raise any queries,” Dukada was quoted as saying, to which the NSPCA responded: “This begs the question, why would the regulatory authorities raise any queries when animal welfare is not their mandate?” 

Al Mawashi noted Dukuda saying “It is not necessary to deal with the concern of the Supreme Court of Appeal, because I have already granted permission to transport sheep by ship from East London Harbour to North of the Equator.” 

“The judgement and reasons mean that Al Mawashi may proceed with shipments going forward uninterruptedly,” said Al Mawashi South Africa managing director, Ilyaas Ally. 

But the NSPCA plan to forge ahead, regardless of the court’s reasons, to permanently ban live sheep exports. 

“The application was not dismissed nor granted, it seems to have been an impractical compromise and therefore, the NSPCA’s legal team launched an application for leave to appeal…,” they said.  

“The main problem with the case presented by the NSPCA is that it has ignored the Terrestrial Animal Health Code (2019) published by the World Organisation for Animal Health of OIE…”

The NSPCA disputed Dukada’s deferring to international law, which they said is not even recognised as such by the international body that developed the guidelines.

NSPCA farm animal protection unit manager Grace De Lange told The Citizen in July that there are a number of welfare concerns regarding live animal exports, especially heat exhaustion due to the high temperatures in the Gulf. 

“There is no evidence before me indicating that what allegedly took place during 2019 is likely to occur in 2020. This is so especially when the regulatory authorities insist the First and Second Respondents adhere to OIE standards, to which the NSPCA seem not to attach any weight,” Dukuda noted. 

“The NSPCA has placed great reliance on heat stress, which causes extreme cruelty to sheep. There is a serious dispute of facts between the parties as to whether the heat stress is avoidable by modern technology,” Dukada said. 

Ally accused the NSPCA of being “adventurous with their claims and not honest truth brokers.” 

Al Mawashi even fingered the NSPCA for allegedly lying to the public, the media and its donors, branding them as going “on a media rampage to make these allegations known”. 

It criticised the NSPCA for framing the court and judge as only looking at the companies’ financial losses, when there is also financial losses incurred with farmers in the Eastern Cape. 

“Once again, the NSPCA proves to show that their crystallised views on the live exports are divorced from understanding the socio-economic importance of live exports for rural communities, the importance of live exports for the South African economy, and the importance of exportation of sheep for South Africa’s trade relations with the Middle East.”

“We are disappointed that the company’s financial loss superseded the suffering of the 51,000 sheep that were transported over the equator at the hottest time of the year – a financial loss that could have been completely avoided as the company knew well in advance that the NSPCA intended to bring about High Court proceedings.

“It is unacceptable that animals suffered in the name of money,” de Lange lamented. 

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