The discovery last year of equine maltreatment at the SA Army Specialist Infantry Capability (SAASIC) base led to horses moved elsewhere, others put down and a Chief Army-appointed board of inquiry, but there is still a court case to be heard.
The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) laid charges against the base and some senior officers. This matter has yet to come to court in North West with the SAASIC base in Potchefstroom.
Meg Wilson, responsible for public relations at the animal welfare organisation, said this week NSPCA inspectors “continue to engage with generals and base commanders, especially in regard to the remaining animals in their care”.
An inspection of the Potchefstroom base in the first quarter of last year found horses basically left to fend for themselves with no food, water or other care. The sorry condition of the working animals was such that 25 had to be put down. Allegations of horses being kept on “an over-stocked property with inadequate shelter” by the NSPCA saw 80 SAASIC horses relocated to another SA Army facility at Rooiwal, north of Pretoria. The transfer of the horses was done on instruction from General Solly Shoke, SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief.
The national defence force did not make public the findings of the board of inquiry and the NSPCA said last year there is “a lack of interest” by both the military and the government in the welfare of animals used in the execution of military duties. The SAASIC horses are utilised in the border protection tasking Operation Corona, as well as for other duties.
Continued inspections and engagements announced last year by NSPCA executive director Marcelle Meredith continue and include the Rooiwal site.
Wilson was not aware of any date being set for the initial hearing in the cruelty to animals case but was hopeful it would make its way onto the court roll in the not too distant future.