Criminal Charges Laid in South African Live Export Case

Credit: NSPCA
Credit: NSPCA

Published Nov 25, 2019 6:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

South African animal welfare organization the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has confirmed that criminal charges have been laid in relation to a shipment of 60,000 sheep to the Middle East in October.

The charges relate to parasitic conditions associated with the sheep and the carrying of animals in such conditions that cause them unnecessary suffering (under terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962).   

The charges were laid against the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) as well as Eastern Cape Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Al Mawashi, the company shipping the sheep on the livestock carrier Al Shuwaikh which has a company in South Africa, the captain of the Al Shuwaikh, the Page Farming Trust and individuals from the Page Farming Trust.

The NSPCA monitored the loading of the Al Shuwaikh and its inspectors documented alleged contraventions of the Animals Protection Act. The NSPCA claims that conditions on board the Al Shuwaikh included dangerously high ammonia levels on some of the enclosed decks, dirty conditions including feces in the food and water troughs, and other welfare concerns. On the dock and feedlot animals were treated in an inhumane manner, says the NSPCA, and attempts were made to load sick, injured and lame animals onto the vessel. 

“Our pleas to treat the animals humanely fell on deaf ears,” said Grace De Lange, Manager of the NSPCA’s Farm Animal Protection Unit. “Seeing the suffering of these sheep even before their departure, and watching the Al Shuwaikh depart was heartbreaking, but it has also affirmed the NSPCA’s determination to advocate for justice on their behalf.”

The NSPCA's legal counsel has confirmed that the NSPCA has a case for the High Court. Their intention is to ensure that the Al Shuwaikh does not return to South Africa and to challenge the issue of exporting live animals by sea. The NSPCA believes that live export by sea is completely unacceptable and unnecessary.