NATIONAL NEWS - The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has finally received correspondence from the Grahamstown High Court regarding their fight to prevent the live export of sheep, they confirmed in a statement on Monday.
The NSPCA and international meat production and trade company, Al Mawashi entered into a court battle earlier this year.
Al Mawashi, and their counterpart, Livestock Transport Trading Company KSC, were in favour of exporting 51,000 live sheep and 650 cattle.
The NSPCA, which opposes live animal exports in general, argued that the planned live export, which took place in September, 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.
The NSPCA received presiding judge, Acting Judge Dukada’s 20-page written reasons stating why the decision was made to allow Al Mawashi to export the animals.
“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?”
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, most significant of which is heat exhaustion due to the high temperatures in the Gulf.
De Lange explained that this could cause dehydration, starvation and death, especially during an estimated two to three-week journey.
There is also the possibility of injury on board due to overcrowding, something Al Mawashi South Africa managing director, Ilyaas Ally disputed, saying that all animals onboard are constantly monitored.
“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.
The NSPCA’s legal team believes their papers to be “more comprehensive…and are higher in evidentiary value”, than that of Al Mawashi’s. The NSPCA submitted so much evidence, they said, that this caused court papers “to exceed 2,300 pages”.
But still, Dukada would not budge.
“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 – chapter 7.2 of the OIE Standards Transport of Animals by Sea (sic).”
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.
“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…”
If Dukada decides to grant the NSPCA leave to appeal the matter, it could be heard by Judges in the Grahamstown High Court, or may be granted to the Supreme Court of Appeal, “which is what our legal team have asked for”, the NSPCA’s statement explained.
But if Dukada opts not to grant leave to appeal, the NSPCA said their legal team “will have no option but to petition straight to the Supreme Court of Appeal.”
“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.
Al Mawashi reported approximately R14 million in unforeseen expenses in feed, veterinary services, and port costs due to the first live export ruling, which saw live exports temporarily postponed.
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”.