The South African National Defence Union says it will pursue the maltreatment of horses by the military‚ following an announcement by the National Council of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) that it intends taking criminal action after the horses were found to be suffering from starvation.
The union’s national secretary Pikkie Greeff said on Monday‚ “Outright shame on SANDF’s Specialised Infantry Capability (SAASIC) that it so neglected its horses that 25 had to be put down. Support 100% charges against command structure of unit! It’s not only neglect of animals‚ it’s willful dereliction of military resources.”
NSPCA inspectors said they were horrified to discover that horses in the care of the unit were starving to death.
Twenty-five horses on the army base were in such an emaciated condition or compromised state of health that to prevent their further suffering‚ they had to be destroyed‚ the animal welfare organisation said.
Marcelle Meredith‚ NSPCA executive director‚ explained that in 2013‚ the SANDF and NSPCA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding which was formally signed in May 2016. She accused the SANDF of continually reneging on the agreement‚ “with regards to their responsibilities to adequately care for the animals in their control“‚ particularly the unit meant to be caring for the horses.
“Their failure to secure suitably qualified personnel or adequate facilities‚ combined with a non-empathetic infrastructure that has repeatedly failed the animals in their care‚ has resulted in a complete breakdown in the welfare conditions afforded to the horses.
“The main herd had no food‚ the horses had no other option but to eat soil and their own faeces.”
She said food was only provided to the horses after the NSPCA forced the SAASIC unit into taking emergency action to secure adequate feed for the animals.
Further investigations revealed that prior to this inspection the Military Veterinary Institute (MVI) had already had to step in and euthanase starving horses and treat others as a result of ongoing neglect‚ said Meredith.
The NSPCA remains concerned about the welfare of the horses.
She said a further 169 horses are currently being kept on the Potchefstroom property in the North West province‚ “which is overstocked‚ has inadequate shelter and is a hazardous environment for these animals“.
The NSPCA said it intended to continually check on the remaining horses to ensure that they are being adequately cared for‚ and would be laying criminal charges against those responsible for the suffering of the horses. Ultimately‚ it wanted the government to uphold the law.
Greg Volkwyn @GregVolkwyn reacted to the Sandu post on social media by saying: “I was in this unit in 1978/79. We were immensely passionate about our horses and proud of our unit. . . This is a reflection on poor leadership.”