Inspectors from the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) were horrified to discover that horses in the care of the South African Army Special Infantry Capability (SAASIC) unit of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) were starving to death. 25 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.
In 2013, the SANDF and NSPCA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding which was formally signed in May 2016 but the SANDF have continually reneged on the agreement, particularly the SAASIC Unit, with regards to their responsibilities to adequately care for the animals in their control.
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. 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 due to process restrictions.
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.
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 will be laying criminal charges against the persons responsible for the suffering of these horses.
The NSPCA is an organisation which struggles with funding and receives no assistance from the government, we rely on the public to continue the much needed work that we do. The NSPCA will need to continually check on the remaining horses to ensure that they are being adequately cared for. This is a huge strain on already scarce resources that come from the generous public – these resources should not have to be spent on ensuring that the government upholds the law.