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.
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.