National Council of SPCAs to lay charges of animal cruelty against SA army

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JOHANNESBURG, May 23 – The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) says it will lay animal cruelty charges against the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) after the discovery of starving horses at an army unit in Potchefstroom.

“The NSPCA is in the process of laying charges against the SANDF regarding the neglect of horses,” said NSPCA communications manager Meg Wilson.

“We will be laying the charges this week. The reason [for the delayed laying of charges] being, we do not simply go into a police station and lay the charges, we form an entire docket for the SAPS.”

Last month NSPCA inspectors found 169 horses, some of them starving, at the South African Army Special Infantry Capability unit.

“Twenty-five horses on the army base were in such an emaciated condition or compromised their state of health that to prevent further suffering they had to be destroyed,” lamented the NSPCA in an earlier statement.

Responding to the matter, the SANDF said its chief Solly Shoke had ordered the relocation of 80 of its horses from the Potchefstroom-based army unit and also confirmed that 25 of its horses were euthanized “due to compromised health”.

The SANDF said it had roped in the Military Veterinary Institute to assess conditions the animals are kept. A board of inquiry was established to determine who should bear responsibility “for the mistreatment of the four-legged soldiers”.

However, on Wednesday, the NSPCA said it was not aware of the inquiry. “The chief of the SANDF, to whom we addressed the letter, has neither acknowledged receipt thereof nor has he responded in any way to the serious concerns that we raise. So we haven’t been involved in that process,” said Wilson.

The South African National Defence Union (SANDU) said, “the issue of the horses is kept very secret”.

“Animals are vulnerable to the poor supply chain management of the SA army which is legendary in either paying suppliers late or not at all. This leaves the soldiers on the ground unable to tend to animals and places them in a precarious position,” said SANDU national secretary Pikkie Greeff.

“Command and control mechanisms are poor, and therefore everyone down the chain of command suffers including the animals.”

– African News Agency (ANA)