So much has happened since the last time I wrote to you about the live export of sheep to Kuwait, in the Middle East.
High Court, February 2020
We headed to the High Court in February 2020 where our case was unfortunately struck off the roll due to procedural issues – the merits of the case had not been argued, and we believe that we still have a strong case to be made.
The Ship Arrives, March 2020
In March 2020, the Al Messilah vessel arrived in South Africa and the NSPCA had teams ready at both the feedlot in Berlin, and the East London Harbour to monitor the loading of these sentient creatures.
It was a gruelling week for the NSPCA who worked tirelessly to protect the sheep that were eventually loaded onto the vessel which was destined for Kuwait and Oman.
It was an uphill battle from beginning to end – court proceedings, protesters, challenges gaining access to the harbour, and our inspectors being treated with contempt by the employees, agents, and associates of Al Mawashi, and the Page Farming Trust – in spite of all these challenges, as well as knowing what the devastating end for these creatures would be, our team stood tall for the voiceless.
We are unsure of the final number of animals loaded on board as the employees and crew were completely uncooperative and hindered our team at every given opportunity, but an estimated 54 500 animals were loaded.
In spite of the NSPCA having an order from the court to inspect the vessel at the end of loading, our Senior Inspectors and Veterinarian were instructed to leave the ship before our inspection was complete, after an injured animal was pointed out. It was impossible to intervene under the circumstances, and Al Mawashi acted in contempt of the Magistrate’s order.
Due to our team being rushed off the ship, a thorough inspection was not possible. In spite of Al Mawashi insisting to the public and the courts that welfare was paramount to their business, and that they had employed an “independent” veterinarian who would travel with the animals on board the vessel, no veterinarian was on board.
Al Mawashi, also known as KLTT, now has a consistent reputation in South Africa for disrespecting South African laws.
The South African Government stops exports during the Middle Eastern Summer months
Like Australian animal welfare groups, notably Animals Australia, who lobbied to the Australian government, the NSPCA has continuously engaged with The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) in order to end this abhorrent trade. The NSPCA has been advised by the DALRRD that they have advised the Eastern Cape Veterinary Services against any live animal exportation to the Middle East from May to September 2020. The Eastern Cape Veterinary Services have confirmed that they have no intentions of going against the decision from DALRRD.
The NSPCA commends the South African Government for taking a stance against shipments during the Middle Eastern Summer months based on the exacerbated risks during this period.
The route and climatic conditions of the voyage from South Africa to the Middle East are horrendous at this time of the year. The temperatures in the Persian Gulf are already climbing towards the 50 degree Celsius mark.
These enclosed vessels do not have air conditioning as claimed. The hot air outside is simply pumped into the pens, the warmer seawater heats up the hull from below and the hot sun beats down on to these metal boxes, all contributing to the already hot and humid environment caused by the tens of thousands of sheep radiating heat from their own bodies, in an attempt to cool themselves.
Evidence has shown that during voyages, particularly between May to September, the combined heat and humidity literally “cooks” animals alive. Many will die and those that survive will endure unimaginable suffering.
IN SPITE OF THE GOVERNMENT’S DECISION, AL MAWASHI HAVE ACCUMULATED APPROXIMATELY 72 000 SHEEP IN THEIR FEEDLOT IN BERLIN
In light of the amassed sheep at the Feedlot – we have tried to ascertain from Al Mawashi whether a shipment is intended in the near future and have been left to draw our own conclusions.
Our legal team wrote to Al Mawashi on 24 May 2020 to inform them that in light of their silence, and lack of cooperation, they have left us with no choice but to begin preparing an application to the High Court – this is to be set down for hearing on Tuesday, 2 June 2020.
Although the climatic conditions between May and September are severe in the Middle East – we are determined to have the transport of livestock by sea declared unlawful throughout the year.
We thank you for your continued support – we will not give up and we are grateful that we have you on our team.
Thank you for being the difference.