/ 7 September 2023

Julius Malema faces animal cruelty charges

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Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) has laid criminal charges relating to animal cruelty at the Magaliesberg police station against the Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) leader, Julius Malema.   

Malema caused public outcry in July just days before the EFF’s 10th anniversary celebration when a video was circulated on social media showing his failed attempt to sever a cow’s spinal cord during a ceremonial slaughter. 

The EFF did not respond to the Mail & Guardian’s request for comment.

The NSPCA received 100 complaints about the incident, said its communication officer, Jacques Peacock.

“It is evident from the video that Mr Malema uses two small knives and inflicts more than 11 stabs and over 60 instances of twisting the knife into the fully conscious animal’s poll,” said Peacock in a statement on Thursday. 

“Mr Malema repeatedly inflicted pain and caused unnecessary suffering to the animal and it is evident that the animal endured significant distress.” 

The animal rights organisation said that after a thorough investigation “into the contraventions depicted in the video”, it decided to lay criminal charges against Malema. 

According to the Meat Safety Act, “An animal presented for slaughter … must be handled humanely during loading, transportation, off-loading, housing, immobilising and killing as prescribed in accordance with the requirements of the Animals Protection Act, 1962 (Act No 71 of 1962). 

“While the SPCA acknowledges and respects the traditions, cultures and religions of South Africa, there is no acceptable reason for handling or slaughtering an animal in an inhumane manner,” the NSPCA said.

The organisation has previously said it is “opposed to any form of slaughter that does not kill an animal instantaneously or render an animal unconscious and insensible to pain through pre-stunning”. 

Pre-stunning of animals prior to slaughter minimises the animal’s distress and pain. Furthermore, “events preceding slaughter should be well planned, with responsible, highly skilled people nominated for specific tasks”, said the NSPCA. 

The EFF announced a “ceremonial slaughter of livestock” on a farm in Magaliesberg after it received donations of about 100 cows ahead of its anniversary celebrations. A video accompanied the political party’s announcement it made on X (formerly Twitter).

In its statement on Thursday, the NSPCA said it would “work closely with law enforcement and the prosecuting authority to ensure a comprehensive investigation and prosecution of the case”.