NSPCA triumphs in case against pig abusers

by Gerrit Bezuidenhout

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) came out on top in an animal cruelty case against one of the beneficiaries of a government-funded farm in the Free State.

The case pertained to the severe neglect and abuse of pigs on a farm in the Brandfort district. 

The case has been coming along since 2016 after Mpho Mokoena, an NSPCA inspector, received a complaint about pigs being left to starve on the farm. 

During the investigation, it came to light that the farm was abandoned and littered with the carcasses of pigs who appeared at first glance to have starved to death. The 16 pigs that were still alive were living in terrible conditions. They had begun to feed on the carcasses. These pigs were euthanised after the NSPCA got a warrant to do so. 

Five beneficiaries of the farm then filed a case with the local police office regarding the pigs. Mpho had all five of them charged with animal abuse.

The charges were later dropped against four of the accused for various reasons, including health, but the remaining beneficiary was found guilty of animal cruelty and sentenced to 30 months in prison, suspended for four years.

The NSPCA says in a press release that the conviction sends a clear message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated.  

Kesvhi Nair, the spokesperson for the NSPCA, says more and more cases of animal abuse are occurring and the NSPCA will continue to investigate every case and charge the offenders. “Regardless of whether there is support from the government or not, the wellbeing of your animals continues to be the responsibility of the owner and a lack of support is not an excuse.”

Mpho says it requires strength to stand before a court and fight for justice. “Most importantly, it requires the support of the public – without their funding, we as inspectors cannot do the hard work required to protect animals.”

Beneficiaries the actual victims

In the meantime, Dr Roy Jankielson, the provincial leader of the DA in the Free State, says the beneficiaries and their livestock are actually victims of a government that could not care less about them. 

“The beneficiary projects in the Free State really only have one goal and that is to enrich cadres within parliament and their cronies outside parliament. Massive contracts for infrastructure and services are entered into during the projects and as soon as the money is transferred, support is simply withdrawn and the beneficiaries are left with nothing.” 

Dr Jankielson says there are many examples of these types of projects across the Free State, including the famous Vrede dairy farm, a project between Harrismith and Kestel that consists of, among other things, a dairy farm and apple orchards, a poultry project near Virgina, and the Bethulie fish processing plant.

“The Harrismith project alone cost about R150 million, but there is nothing left of it. The dairy farm was abandoned while all the nets over the apple orchards were removed, and the trees dried out. The same happened at the Virginia project where tens of millions of rands were spent. There is not a single chicken in the rows of batteries that have been erected.”

Meanwhile, beneficiaries of these projects are left without income. 

During his provincial speech Mxolisi Dukwana, the Free State premier, said until March 2022 the government has purchased 139 farms in the Free State. 

Dr Jankielson says not one of them led to successful commercial farms.

“The solution would be to situate farmers on these farms who already have farming experience and can transform them into commercial family farms. These farmers will of course need to receive the title deeds of these farms, support in the form of training and guidance services, and eventually stand on their own two feet. This is the only way how we will see fewer of these incidents in the future.”

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