More animal neglect allegations against award-winning farmer

New allegations of animal neglect have emerged against a former national winner of a top agricultural award.

More animal neglect allegations against award-winning farmer
Pigs were confiscated during the NSPCA’s recent visit to Hlengiwe Hlope’s farm near Winterton in KwaZulu-Natal.
Photo: NSPCA
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New allegations of animal neglect have emerged against a former national winner of a top agricultural award.

Speaking to Farmer’s Weekly this week, Grace de Lange, manager of the Farm Animal Protection Unit at the NSPCA, said a number of pigs had been confiscated from the farm of Hlengiwe Hlophe near Winterton in KwaZulu-Natal earlier this month.

Hlophe received the Top Entrepreneur: Commercial Female Farmer of the Year award from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in 2015.

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As the details around the confiscation of the animals formed part of a criminal investigation, De Lange could not disclose the number of pigs that had been confiscated, nor could she disclose the nature of the communication between the NSPCA and Hlophe’s legal representative.

Farmer’s Weekly had reported in 2015 that Hlophe had been under investigation for contravening the Animal Protection Act 71 of 1962.

This followed a visit by the NSPCA to the farm the previous year, during which it was found that both pig pens and chicken cages had stocking densities that were too high, and that dead chickens were not being removed from cages.

De Lange said the NSPCA inspectors had first visited the farm in March 2014, after receiving a complaint from a local vet.

After the NSPCA issued warnings to Hlophe, she complied with the correct animal production methods for a time, but then reverted to “her previous ways”, De Lange explained.

“[From] 2014 to date, the farm has been inspected 17 times,” she added.

Sizwe Mchunu, as DA member of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature told Farmer’s Weekly, that the party was also investigating the allegations against Hlophe.

“Our question to the MEC [for agriculture and rural development in KwaZulu-Natal] is how could Hlope have been bestowed such an award if she was charged with cruelty to animals,” he said.

According to a Farmer’s Weekly source in the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural development, the department was currently also conducting an investigation into the allegations.

Attempts by Farmer’s Weekly to reach Hlope for comment were unsuccessful.

Gerhard Uys grew up as a real city lad, but spends his free time hiking and visiting family farms. He learnt the journalism trade as a freelance writer and photographer in the lifestyle industry, but having decided that he will be a cattle farmer by the age of 45 he now indulges his passion for farming by writing about agriculture. He feels Farmer’s Weekly is a platform for both developed and emerging farmers to learn additional farming skills and therefore takes the job of relaying practical information seriously.