Progress in the private prosecution of Thandi Modise, speaker of Parliament, for alleged animal cruelty on her North West farm is reportedly being hindered by “political agendas”.
This was according to Grace de Lange, manager of the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (NSPCA) Farm Animal Protection Unit.
Farmer’s Weekly previously reported that in July 2014, an NSPCA inspection of Modise’s farm reportedly found the carcasses of numerous dead animals, including pigs, that had allegedly died due to starvation and thirst.
Animals still alive were reportedly observed sometimes cannibalising the carcasses, while others were observed drinking urine. Some of the living animals were in such poor condition that the NSPCA had to euthanise them.
De Lange said that after the National Prosecuting Authority declined to prosecute animal cruelty charges against Modise because of insufficient evidence, the NSPCA engaged the services of AfriForum, and the head of its Private Prosecutions Unit, advocate Gerrie Nel, to institute a private prosecution against Modise.
De Lange added that the case presented by AfriForum and the NSPCA against Modise on 1 and 2 December in the Potchefstroom Regional Court was postponed until 13 to 15 April 2021.
A statement issued by AfriForum said that this postponement was due to Modise’s legal team, led by advocate Dali Mpofu, requesting the court to allow them time to find their own appropriately knowledgeable expert to cross-examine the veterinarian, Dr Sameer Abbas, who the NSPCA called out to Modise’s farm when the dead and dying animals were discovered. Abbas was due to testify as an expert witness called by the NSPCA and AfriForum.
De Lange said: “It is extremely disappointing that it appears as though political agendas are being brought to the forefront on this case instead of the serious animal welfare concerns and cruelty that resulted in this prosecution in the first place. […] advocate Dali Mpofu alluded to this on numerous occasions during the trial”.
AfriForum’s statement said that Modise had pleaded not guilty to all six charges of cruelty to animals that it and the NSPCA had privately instituted against her.
Farmer’s Weekly’s attempts to obtain comment from Modise were unsuccessful at the time of going to print.
According to De Lange, if Modise was found guilty of the charges against her, she faced a R40 000 fine and/or 12 months in prison.