Potchefstroom in North West is an equine centre for the country’s top two security agencies – the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and the SA Police Service (SAPS). How their animals are treated is as different as day and night, according to the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA).
Earlier this year 25 horses had to be euthanased at the SA Army Specialist Infantry Capability (SAASIC) because of what NSPCA executive director Marcelle Meredith called “their perilous condition”. Other horses were later removed from the SAASIC base and yet another round of euthanasing, this time for two horses, followed.
Compare this with what NSPCA inspectors found late in August on an unannounced inspection to the SAPS Mounted Unit Training Academy in the town.
“The horses were in excellent condition and no contraventions of the Animal Protection Act were noted during the inspection. Large areas with adequate grazing are available for horses to express natural behaviour and all horses behaved confidently around the inspectors and SAPS personnel.
“The NSPCA commends the SAPS Mounted Unit Training Academy in Potchefstroom for not only accommodating the NSPCA during our unannounced inspection, the clean environment and excellent condition of the horses is indicative of a government unit that seems to really care about their animals.
“The SAPS Mounted Academy is a fine example of a government department which takes responsibility seriously and places knowledgeable and correct personnel in control of their horses, unlike neighbour SAASIC, where 25 horses had to be euthanased earlier this year due to their perilous condition as a result of neglect and the ongoing general mistreatment of horses at the unit,” Meredith said.
The SA Army convened a board of inquiry into SAASIC and the apparent ill-treatment and lack of care to its equine charges in May this year. The board was given 30 days to complete its investigation and report to Army chief, Lieutenant General Lindile Yam. This deadline was met. Any number of defenceWeb enquiries since have revealed only that the report is with Yam and legal opinions are being taken. No announcement as regards possible removal of responsible officers and other personnel or further remedial steps have yet been made.
The SANDF did say it would relocate the majority of SAASIC horses to a site north of Pretoria where improved facilities and care would be provided. This has also not been confirmed.