Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise appeared at the Potchefstroom regional court on Monday, over alleged animal cruelty at a farm she owned in the North West.
The case was postponed as Modise’s legal team said they needed more time to challenge the charges laid against her by AfriForum.
In 2014, the National Council of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) approached the lobby group after they found that Modise’s farm was left abandoned for weeks.
More than 50 pigs and 80 animals were found dead on the farm after being neglected, while other pigs had resorted to eating the carcasses of the dead animals. The NSPCA had to euthanise 117 animals due to their dire condition.
At the time the farm was found to be abandoned, Modise said the farm manager had asked for a leave of absence two weeks ago to attend to an urgent family matter. She said she believed his replacement had matters under control and was shocked to learn he had disappeared. Modise also claimed that she was actively involved in the farm and would visit every two weeks.
Workers contradicted that, saying that she made an appearance there at intervals “of six to eight months”.
It later emerged that workers were being starved on her farm too. A worker on a neighbouring farm said that a Zimbabwean worker named “Nina” had asked him for mealie pap, after she told him that she was not paid.
A neighbouring employee also said that one of Modise’s workers had come to beg for maize porridge in June after being hired in May and not receiving his wages.
The case is being taken on by AfriForum’s head of private prosecution unit, Gerrie Nel, who is acting on behalf of the NSPCA after the NPA refused to act against Modise.
The hearing is set to continue at the end of October where Modise will once again appear at the regional court in Potchefstroom, North West.