Al Mawashi SA began the process of loading livestock onto the carrier ship, Al Messilah, which is bound for Kuwait in the Middle East. This was the 4th shipment of livestock from the East London Harbour, and approximately 57 000 sheep, 800 cattle, and 200 goats which were mostly locally sourced in the Eastern Cape were successfully loaded and settled in for the 14-day journey.

Agri Eastern Cape, together with the Eastern Cape Red Meat Producers Organisation, were onsite at the harbour and monitored the process from start to finish to ensure the correct procedures were followed at all times. This included the loading of the livestock from the feedlot, the transportation to the harbour and the final loading onto the ship. Government and NSPCA veterinarians and inspectors were also present during this process.

Agri Eastern Cape is pleased to report that this organisation is satisfied with the manner in which this operation has been handled. This shipment and the process as a whole has been managed and will continue to be managed in a manner that exceeds the minimum internationally accepted standards.

Agri Eastern Cape has also committed to provide Al Mawashi SA with a written report following our observations of the process on possible improvements to the operational aspect of the loading process with the objective of providing advice on streamlining the procedures. This report will be discussed in detail with Al Mawashi SA and the State veterinarians, and the NSPCA will once again be invited to participate in these discussions. Animal welfare remains a top priority for Agri Eastern Cape, and the organisational goal is to ensure that the animals that our members take great pride in rearing are well taken care of during these processes.

It is important to mention that the NSPCA did not fulfil its mandate during this shipment. While the inspectors were cooperative, the senior members within the organisation were deliberately disruptive. The oversight of the animal handling and welfare of the animals was not the top priority of the NSPCA leadership who embarked on negative social media campaigns, using unrelated and outdated footage in an effort to slander the industry. The NSPCA attempted on numerous occasions to halt proceedings altogether. This has led to a loss of support for the local branches within the Eastern Cape.

Agri Eastern Cape values the oversight role of the NSPCA in the shipment of livestock and believes the organisation has an important role to play in the protection of animals and to ensure that animal welfare is always prioritised. Agri Eastern Cape therefore urges the NSPCA to focus on the pressing matters in the Province, such as the barbaric stock-theft slaughtering methods deployed by the criminal fraternity that is running rife throughout the Eastern Cape. It is believed that this would be a far better use of resources and funds than targeting processes and procedures that are regulated and monitored by the individuals who care for these animals.

The live export of animals is key to economic growth in this province and Agri Eastern Cape prides itself on the fact that its involvement has greatly benefitted the members of this organisation and the livelihoods of their employees. Agri Eastern Cape looks forward to working with the MEC and Al Mawashi in the development of opportunities for our farmers while also helping to develop emerging farmers in the province.

Doug Stern

President: Agri Eastern Cape

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