The mercy killing of horses used and supposedly cared for by the SA Army’s Specialist infantry Capability (SAASIC) as well as apparent subsequent further ill-treatment of horses saw a board of inquiry formed to investigate and report.
It’s now been over five months since the National Council of SPCA’s (NSPCA) euthanased 25 horses, which led to the board being created and there has to date been no word from the SA Army command structure on what transpired.
“This is an absolute disgrace,” is Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais’ response to the ongoing silence from not only the SA Army command but also the corporate communications directorate of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
“As an MP with a direct interest in what the national defence force is doing and not doing I’m now forced to go the route of submitting a written question to Minister (Nosiviwe) Mapisa-Nqakula.
“The way the SAASIC horses were treated is disgraceful. They are service animals and are active contributors to border protection. Both the horses and dogs used by the military should enjoy high standards of care and treatment as they assist in combatting threats to our country and our sovereignty.”
Marais maintains the shocking treatment horses were subjected to at the SAASIC unit headquarters in Potchefstroom was a dereliction of duty by the unit officer commanding, the Chief of the SA Army and “ultimately” SANDF Chief, General Solly Shoke.
When the NSPCA first made public its actions in removing and euthanasing horses from the army base, the response in announcing a board of inquiry and giving it a limited 30 day period to complete investigations was widely welcomed as positive. The lack of response – and action – subsequently is not, Marais said.
The national animal cruelty prevention organisation entered into a memorandum of understanding with the SA Army’s Specialised Infantry Corps (SAASIC) in 2013 regarding correct and proper care of horses it uses. The MOU was, according to Marcelle Meredith, NSPCA executive director, only signed in 2016.
An inspection in May brought to light horses were dying of starvation and 25 were removed and euthanased. Another 69 horses were later taken away by the NSPCA inspectors and relocated to a “site where their needs will be adequately catered for,” Meredith said at the time.
In addition to a statement announcing the board of inquiry the SANDF said the majority of horses at SAASIC would be transferred to another facility north of Pretoria.