Maltreatment and subsequent euthanasia of horses at the SA Army Specialist Infantry Capability (SAASIC) in May has been dealt with by a board of inquiry (BOI) whose recommendations have been implemented, according to the senior communications officer of the national defence force.
In response to a defenceWeb enquiry, Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi said: “All prescribed recommendations in the BOI conducted on the matter are being implemented and horses moved to Rooiwal have settled well”.
He did not respond when asked if the National Council of SPCAs, which has a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the unit on animal welfare, was informed of the BOI recommendations.
No information was volunteered as to possible personnel changes or disciplinary action at the unit as regards its command group.
In May the NSPCA said it removed 25 horses from the unit at Potchefstroom in North West after a routine, but unannounced, animal welfare inspection. The animals were subsequently put down.
At the time of the inspection the NPSCA’s Marcelle Meredith said: “The failure to secure suitably qualified personnel or adequate facilities, combined with a non-empathetic infrastructure that repeatedly failed the animals resulted in a complete breakdown in welfare conditions afforded the horses.
“The main herd had no food, horses had no option but to eat soil and own faeces. Food was only provided after the NSPCA forced SAASIC into taking emergency action to secure adequate feed for the animals due to process restrictions.”
Within two weeks the SA Army convened a BOI and, as an indication of the seriousness with which it regarded the issue, the board was told to finalise and submit its report within 30 days. This was done but the recommendations not made public with a “legal review” cited as the reason.
The NSPCA, according to Meredith, was not kept in the loop on the BOI, its work and recommendations, but kept a weather eye on the Potchefstroom unit. This saw another 76 horses removed and taken to places of better care. A number of the horses were offered to animal lovers as the national animal welfare body could not afford to keep and care for them.
Mgobozi said SAASIC horses have been moved to Rooiwal, north of Pretoria, where facilities and infrastructure is being improved with the support of the SA Military Health Service’s (SAMHS) Military Veterinary Institute (MVI).