Inquiry underway into SANDF starving horses

Friday, May 11, 2018

The SANDF has established a Board of Inquiry which will investigate what went wrong and find solutions for horses who were poorly treated at the South African Army Specialist Infantry Capability (SAASIC) unit.

“The SANDF has convened a board of inquiry to expeditiously determine what might have gone wrong to expose the animals to harm and ensure that where there was neglect; necessary corrective actions are taken to ensure that it does not occur again,” SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi said on Friday.

The SANDF this week ordered the relocation of 80 horses to a better facility in Rooiwal, North of Pretoria, after they were found starving by animal welfare inspectors at an army unit in Potchefstroom.

Only 40 horses will be left at SAASIC in Potchefstroom with the understanding that the facility will be adequate to cater for all these animals’ needs.

The SANDF confirmed that 25 of its horses were euthanized at SAASIC unit last month "due to compromised health" after an inspection by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA).

In 2013, the SANDF and NSPCA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding which was formally signed in May 2016 but the SANDF has continually reneged on the agreement, particularly the SAASIC Unit, with regards to their responsibilities to adequately care for the animals in their control.

But according to NSPCA, SANDF 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, the NSPCA added, had no food, which left them to eat soil and their own faeces.

To improve the conditions, SANDF has roped in the services of the Military Veterinary Institute (MVI) to help continuously assess the conditions under which these animals are kept and ensure that all conditions identified as harmful are addressed with the urgency they deserve, to enhance the health status of the animals.

With the help of the MVI, SANDF has enlisted extra personnel and veterinary physicians to help manage the animals and ensure that the highest standard of animal breeding behaviour is maintained by the SANDF.

Mgobozi said the extra personnel required are from within the SANDF and will be redeployed under the strict supervision of the Military Veterinary Institute to assist with the alleviation of the challenges already raised at the facility.

“The findings of the convened Board of Inquiry will play a crucial role on how the SANDF moves forward in as far as taking care of the horses and other animals under its care is concerned.”

As a law-abiding organisation, Mgobozi added that the SANDF will cooperate with any form of investigation to allow the law to take its course. -