Daily Maverick

SANDF sets up inquiry into abuse of horses at military base

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has established a board of inquiry to determine who should bear responsibility for the mistreatment of horses at its base and how to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

News24 previously reported that horses at the South African Army Special Infantry Capability (SAASIC) unit in Potchefstroom were so badly malnourished that 25 had to euthanised.

“The SANDF has convened a board of inquiry to expeditiously determine what might have gone wrong to expose the animals to harm and ensure that where there was neglect; necessary corrective actions are taken to ensure that it does not occur again,” Siphiwe Dlamini, SANDF head of Communications Defence Corporate Communication, told News24 on Friday.

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) had expressed its outrage over the fact that the SANDF had reneged on a formal agreement on the welfare of animals.

“In 2013, the SANDF and NSPCA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding which was formally signed in May 2016, but the SANDF have continually reneged on the agreement, particularly the SAASIC Unit, with regards to their responsibilities to adequately care for the animals in their control,” the NSPCA said in a statement.

Dlamini said that extra personnel would be co-opted from within the SANDF, and would operate under strict supervision of the Military Veterinary Institute to assist the SANDF with the care of horses.

“The facility at Rooiwal is large enough to house the bigger number of animals and meets the animal welfare requirements raised by the Military Veterinary Institute.”

The NSPCA vowed to keep close tabs on how the animals were being treated.

“We will ensure that, as long as there are horses on the base, they have good quality food, we will assist the MVI. We will do whatever it takes to ensure the welfare of the horses immediately,” NSPCA executive director Marcelle Meredith told News24.

The Constitutional Court affirmed in December 2016 that the NSPCA has statutory power.

“It is declared that the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has the statutory power of private prosecution conferred upon it by section 6(2)(e) of the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 169 of 1993 read with section 8 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977,” reads the judgment against the Minster of Justice and Constitutional Development, and the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

Dlamini promised that the SANDF would subject itself to the law.

“The findings of the convened board of inquiry will play a crucial role on how the SANDF moves forward in as far as taking care of the horses and other animals under its care is concerned.

“As a law-abiding organisation, the SANDF will always cooperate with any form of investigation to allow the law to take its course.” DM

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