The NSPCA’s ‘ideological stance’ that live exports is an industry that is inherently cruel is untrue, that’s according to Al Mawashi SA Managing Director Ilyaas Ally.
Ally says they are only being targeted because of the large volumes of animals that they will be exporting to the Middle East.
The Grahamstown High Court recently ruled in favour of Al Mawashi, a subsidiary of a live export company Kuwait Livestock and Transport (KLTT) in its battle against the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA).
Al Mawashi, with the blessings of the South African Government, has been exporting live sheep and cattle across the equator to the middle east since 2019.
The animals are mostly sourced from farmers in the Eastern Cape and Al Mawashi has thus far exported in excess of 140 000 sheep injecting nearly half a billion rand into the Eastern Cape’s province economy.
But the NSPCA has been fighting Al Mawashi since 2019, calling the trade of exporting the animals by sea to the Middle East “egregious and inherently cruel”.
But Acting judge Dukada disagreed with the arguments advanced by the NSPCA in the court battle that took place in the Grahamstown High Court throughout October and November 2020.
On 17 November, Acting Judge Dukuda declined the NSPCAs application for leave to appeal his judgement in an earlier ruling which favoured Al Mawashi to export some 51 000 sheep and 650 cattle. In a statement on its website, the NSPCA said it has no choice but to approach the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.
“The NSPCA cannot surrender now. We must go on. We will be failing every animal on those ships, and the thousands more that may be under threat of being boarded in the future if we do not continue” said its Executive Director Marcelle Meredith.
Commenting on their court victory Al Mawashi SA Managing Director Ilyaas Ally said the NSPCA has an ideological stance that live exports is an industry that is inherently cruel.
The battle between the two organisations was sparked off by video footage showing horrific conditions in which animals were kept in, subsequently leading to Al Mawashi’s subsidiary in Australia (RETWA) losing its license to transport sheep to Kuwait. This seemed to have overspilled into South Africa in 2019, when NSCPA claimed it witnessed cruelty by the exporter on three separate occasions.
Al Mawashi vehemently refuted this claim, saying the public had been misled to think their parent company was barred from Australia including been banned to berth at ports.
“That is false and misleading. Live exports continue today from Australia, and our parent company is the largest buyer of sheep from this country. Trading continues and our parent company has been supporting Australian farmers for over 40 years. It’s also important to note that our parent company has established supply chains around the world,” Ally said.
Furthermore, Ally said that the epic video footage showing animal cruelty on a vessel was not that of Al Mawashi, neither is the vessel owned by the company.
The video footage was shown and widely promoted on an animal welfare website (www.stopliveexports.com), which was subsequently flogged by authorities as a fake website account and shut down.
Al Mawashi SA said it was made aware of the video and lodged a complaint to RSA internet authorities “against this brazen act of misinformation through anti-live export website that was commissioned by the animal rights groups” it had said in a statement.
Mzansi Agri Talk previously interviewed the NSPCA and the animal welfare organisation denied that it only targeted Al Mawashi.
In the same interview, the NSPCA rubbished claims that it was being funded by Australian donors to specifically fight Al Mawashi on its South African deal.
However, Al Mawashi SA is adamant that the NSPCA was using live exports as a platform to drive attention in the media and the public to itself for ‘predatory fundraising’ through the creation and construction of animal welfare crisis that does not exist.’
“All claims about animal cruelty are unfounded. In fact, we need to remind your readers that the NSPCA has failed in five legal court bids against our company in a period of 10 months in 2020, failing to prove that the transportation of animals by sea is inherently cruel,” said Ally.
Al Mawashi SA asserted that it was impossible for the company to neglect OIE guidelines as South Africa was a signatory to these, including its sundry practices such as the transportation of animals by sea.
In September, the NSCPA issued a statement claiming that its inspectors observed numerous contraventions of the Animals Protection Act of 71 of 62 at the Al Mawashi vessel.
“These contraventions included; animals legs caught between trucks and ramps, dragging of the sheep by the fleece, legs and horns, punching and kicking, tail twisting, knee jabbing into the ribs of animals, and grabbing and tossing of animals. More than 50 % of the sheep were not afforded adequate space and pens were over-crowded. At this time of the year with expected high temperatures, this kind of stocking density is unacceptable, especially for the overweight animals.”
Al Mawashi countered this by saying it had put several procedures and systems in place to ensure animal welfare and safety during ocean-bound voyages. It said its vessels are equipped with;
• hospital pens – animals displaying any signs of distress are moved to these pens and receive high-care medical treatment;
• ventilation systems – which provide fresh air, and remove heat, humidity and ammonia and carbon monoxide; ventilation systems are inspected by South African authorities before each shipment;
• feed and water systems – which are automated on board the vessel, and animals receive fresh feed and water daily, and feed ad lib; temperatures onboard vessels are monitored;
• floors – straw or sawdust are added to vessel floors to assist absorption of urine and faeces, if necessary. Manure is trampled down to create a firm pad underfoot;
• vessels are cleaned before and after each new journey by removing manure and bedding, and pens are disinfected before each new journey.
Ally further added: “we have accredited veterinarians and / or trained stockman/animal handlers travel onboard the vessels, animal handlers are allocated to decks to work under supervision of vets to monitor animal behaviour, welfare and health….South African authorities, including DAFF and DRDAR state vets have inspected and passed our vessels, furthermore: our vessels are also accredited with Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).”
Commenting on the Makanda High Court’s latest decision to dismiss NSPCA’s application for leave to appeal Ally said: “It was our opinion that the order by the Makanda High Court was not appealable, since it is an interim order pending as initially stated in the notice of motion filed by the NSPCA. It should be remembered, there is only certain instances when an interim order be the subject of an appeal, and this case was not one of them.”
“Since its introductory presence in South Africa, Al Mawashi has exported in excess of 140 000 sheep injecting nearly half a billion rand into the Eastern Cape’s province economy.
“The temporary disruption in the live exports, which resulted in us not fulfilling another shipment for the year, has also deprived the Eastern Cape’s agricultural economy from income, especially against the impact of Covid-19,” said Ally.