DAFF female farmer winner under investigation, says NSPCA

The National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) in South Africa is investigating one of the national winners in this year’s Female Entrepreneur Awards, a flagship project of the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), for contravening the animal protection act.

DAFF female farmer winner under investigation, says NSPCA
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The NSPCA told Farmer’s Weekly that they had started investigating Ukwanda farm in Winterton, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), which is owned Hlengiwe Hlope, winner in the category for top commercial female farmer, and her husband, Mike Mjiyakho, in 2014.

After numerous visits to the farm they laid criminal charges because warnings about animal welfare were not heeded. The NSPCA was currently waiting for the docket to go to the state prosecutor.

The South African Pork Producers Organisation (SAPPO) told Farmer’s Weekly a mentor from the organisation visited the farm on several occasions.

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Simon Streicher, CEO of SAPPO said in June last year (2014) when the mentor arrived at Ukwanda he realised that animals had been without food for a number of days. The animals were left without food because workers were striking for not receiving wages. According to Streicher the mentor then informed the NSPCA of the situation on the farm.

According to a veterinary report given to SAPPO which is in Farmer’s Weekly’s possession animals were emaciated and some showed signs of malnutrition and diarrhea.

According to the NSPCA, during another farm visit they found that pigs were confounded to unsuitable crates with their backs touching the top of crates.

“Pigs with hernias were also not slaughtered,” the NSPCA said.

An earlier NSPCA visit to the farm in 2013 revealed that pigs had been left without water after a pipe burst. The animals also had open sores, and nail breaks, and some of the pigs were reportedly unable to stand.

On a number of farm visits pigs had to be euthanized, according to the NSPCA.

The KZN agriculture department responded to allegations against Hlope in a statement, saying their preliminary investigation showed that circumstances that gave rise to some of the allegations “happened in the period prior to August 2014”.

According to the provincial department, it was during this period when officials in the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform were under investigation for the purchases of farms, one of which was Ukwanda Farm.

During that period, the farms were put under curatorship and were under investigation by the Special Investigation Unit. Ukwanda Farm was eventually cleared of all allegations by the court.

“Given the concerns raised recently we will continue monitoring the situation at Ukwanda,” the KZN agriculture department said.

*Read the full story in the 25 September 2015 issue of Farmer’s Weekly.