Fed-up boerboel breeders give up on the government and go to the public protector

Pricey: The traditional boerboel is tawny in colour, and whether boerboels are split into black is an issue costing thousands of rands, legal action and the involvement of the public protector (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Pricey: The traditional boerboel is tawny in colour, and whether boerboels are split into black is an issue costing thousands of rands, legal action and the involvement of the public protector (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

After months of inaction by authorities, a dossier of evidence linking the South African Boerboel Breeders’ Society to alleged corruption will be submitted to the public protector’s office this week.

The department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, which oversees the trade in the locally bred dogs, agreed to set up a commission of inquiry into the trade in boerboels and its regulation by the society, after the file was submitted to the minister, Senzeni Zokwana, last month. 

The dossier was compiled by animal rights activist and investigator Nanandi Simine, who has accused the boerboel breeders’ society and the department of colluding to control the industry and the lucrative international export clearance rights, which the society holds exclusively. 

Earlier this month, the Mail & Guardian exposed the government’s failure to investigate the illegal shipment of boerboels overseas and concerns about the declaration of some dogs as being thoroughbred without having proper documentation.

In an emailed letter to Zokwana’s office, Simine notified him of legal action being considered by several breeders and representatives of the associations that have allegedly been sidelined by the society.

“Please note that I have recently had discussions with several regulatory divisions … and an action plan is being put in place to address the failure of your department to act within its required role and functions.

“While your department has continued to fail in its service delivery, animals have continued to suffer and many [people] have incurred severe losses, both emotionally and financially, causing great stress. I suspect that damages claims will also follow,” Simine wrote.

On Monday, the department is expected to hear an appeal by breeders against the ban on exporting black boerboels.  The allegations contained in the dossier centre on the conversion of the former breeders’ association into the boerboel breeders’ society, and the alleged sidelining of other breeders unhappy with the current leadership of the society. The government has recognised the society as the only regulator in the country.

But it has denied Simine’s claims of inefficiency and lax service, saying it has fast-tracked an inquiry into the claims and appointed an advocate, Simon Phaswane, to head the appeals board.

“The department has received the dossier and is investigating the allegations she has put forward. That’s why the acting director general appointed the appeal board. Simine’s claims are not true. The appointment of the appeal board reflects the seriousness with which the department considers the allegations,” agriculture department spokesperson Steve Galane said this week.

The boerboel is a protected South African species whose ancestry can be traced to the first Cape Dutch settlers and to the expansion of the diamond mines in the 1920s. 

The breed is considered dangerous and is banned in Qatar, Malaysia and France. The dogs sell for between R5 000 and R10 000 on online breeding and traders’ forums, and the highest price fetched for a single dog is R130 000, sold by William Fourie, in George, to an international buyer last year.

Asked to respond to the allegations this week, the boerboel breeders’ society declined to comment.

 

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