Al Mawashi, which has exported approximately 120 000 sheep aboard ship from South Africa to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in two shipments since October 2019, will on 6 August contest a legal bid by the National Council of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) to have further such exports permanently banned, allegedly due to various animal health and welfare violations before, during and after the shipments.
Ilyaas Ally, managing director of Al Mawashi’s South African operations, has repeatedly stated in the media that the company’s land-based and shipboard operations met World Organisation for Animal Health standards for animal health and welfare, and that any additional concerns raised by the NSPCA and other parties in this regard had been considered and, where applicable, addressed.
The NSPCA has maintained that livestock exports by sea from South Africa should be legally banned, and ahead of Thursday’s case in the Grahamstown High Court, the Humane Society International in Africa (HSI-Africa) called on South Africans to support the NSPCA’s efforts.
In a statement on 27 July, Tony Gerrans, HSI-Africa executive director, was quoted as having said: “On previous voyages, both the NSPCA and HSI-Africa have offered to pay for the services of an independent vet to accompany the sheep en route to the final destination in Kuwait so that these assertions of good [animal] welfare can be validated. But Al Mawashi has rejected or ignored these offers.”
Ally told Farmer’s Weekly that Al Mawashi had never received an offer from HSI-Africa for the latter to pay for an independent vet to accompany and monitor the shipboard sheep exports from South Africa. Al Mawashi could, therefore, not have rejected or ignored these offers as asserted by Gerrans.
In his response to Farmer’s Weekly’s enquiry in this regard, Gerrans said that HSI-Africa had subsequently revisited its correspondence with Al Mawashi.
“On review, we noted that the communication by HSI’s attorneys was not express regarding our position that we would provide funds necessary for this function [of having an independent vet accompany the sheep aboard Al Mawashi’s ships], should that be a material impediment to such an arrangement. We have thus clarified our position in this regard in writing with Al Mawashi, and we are awaiting their response,” Gerrans said.
Ally said that Al Mawashi had received HSI-Africa’s clarified position only after Farmer’s Weekly queried Gerrans’ statement with the society on Tuesday, 4 August.
“So [Gerrans] has now quickly written to Al Mawashi to make an offer; which he claimed and told the world [HSI-Africa] had done before [today]. Al Mawashi is now considering its response,” Ally added.
The NSPCA’s executive director, Marcelle Meredith, said that her organisation “had nothing to do” with HSI-Africa’s statement.
“We are solely focussed on having these exports permanently banned. Trying to get an independent vet onboard the ship is irrelevant to our case,” she said.