Live animal trade cruel and ‘illegal’, court told
Farmers will suffer from blocked sheep-ship exports, judge hears
A lawyer for the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has accused two Kuwaiti animal export companies of building their entire business model on the back of inflicting cruelty and suffering on the animals they transport.
The fiery allegation was made by advocate Kevin Hopkins in the high court in Makhanda on Thursday, where the lawyer argued that the court should keep in place an interim interdict prohibiting South Africanbased Kuwaiti company Al Mawashi and its parent company, Livestock Transport and Trading Company (LTTC), from exporting any sheep from SA by boat to the Middle East.
The NSPCA wants the high court to keep the interim prohibition in place pending the outcome of a much bigger court matter in which it will seek to stop the export of sheep by ship to the Middle East altogether.
Advocate Johan de Waal SC, for Al Mawashi and LTTC, argued that this would take “many, many months” likely leading to what he termed the complete destruction of Al Mawashi and LTTC’s business in SA.
“This is a company headhunted by the Eastern Cape government to do business in the Eastern Cape.
“This investment will be quashed and destroyed as well as further investment opportunities. There will be a knockon effect on farmers, as well as on international relations and trade with Kuwait,” De Waal continued.
But Hopkins argued that lifting the interim interdict would amount to the courts condoning cruelty to animals, which was contrary to the Animal Protection Act and therefore illegal.
He said there was excessive cruelty at every step of the sheep’s journey, including their 30-day quarantine at the Castledale feedlot in Berlin, their trip from the feedlot to the harbour, the loading of the sheep onto the ship and finally the journey on board the ship.
On the ship they were exposed to hunger, thirst, excessive ammonia and excrement, constant noise, unremitting bright fluorescent lights and terrible heat, which literally caused some sheep to cook from the inside out, he said.
“The suffering, pain, cruelty and brutality is enormous. The companies (Al Mawashi and LTTC) do not deny this but tell you it is irrelevant.
“How is cruelty irrelevant? These are our (SA’s) animals, and this is taking place in our society.
“A foreign company comes here to treat our animals like this to make money.”
He said LTTC had turned to SA because its business model, which was built on cruelty, was floundering in several other countries around the world.
“They are no longer welcome to export sheep from Ireland ... nor from New Zealand. Some of their ships ... are banned from Australia and have been condemned by the European parliament.”
He said after an exposé on the horrific conditions suffered by sheep on ships in 2018, Australia had also imposed a partial ban on the live export of sheep during summer to the Middle East.
It was at this point that LTTC had decided to source sheep in SA for the summer months.
“They set up Al Mawashi and sought to ply their cruel and brutal trade in this country with our animals.”
He said it was time for the companies to “rethink their business model so that they adjust to operating a legitimate business that no longer inflicts cruelty and suffering on the animals that they transport”.
The courts had to decide if SA was willing to tolerate senseless brutality and cruelty or not.
“If we allow people to deal with these animals in such a brutal manner then we are allowing our constitutional project to be undermined.”
Hopkins did not spare the government for what he termed its 14-year failure to regulate the animal export industry.
He said despite being cited as respondents, the government had chosen not to come to court.
Argument continued late into Thursday afternoon and is set down to continue on Friday.
Acting Judge Nceba Dukada is presiding.