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Commuters were shocked to see two giraffe being transported on the N1 motorway North of Pretoria. Photographs snapped by motorists revealed how the long necks of the blindfolded giraffes loomed far above the vehicle as it approached the Garsfontein Bridge.
Witnesses expressed their horror as the truck went under the bridge and a tremendous crack was heard as one of the giraffe hit its head on the concrete bridge. Despite vehicles hooting for the truck to stop, the driver ploughed on.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) rejected the explanation of the driver who was transporting the two giraffe for Ditjabe Wildlife Services, from Meyersdal Eco Estate, who claimed that it was an accident. Rick Allen, of the SPCA said: "Accidents do happen… but this is one of those things that could have been prevented. It's just common sense."
The South African Bureau of Standards has published a code for public transport of wild animals and open transport with the heads of giraffes sticking out is unacceptable. Those responsible for the giraffe's death would be prosecuted under the Animal Protection Laws. The NSPCA has declared that "We will lay criminal charges under the Animal Protection Act."
The giraffe's bizarre and tragic death has made international news. The UKs Metro wrote: "Common sense is evidently in short supply among some lorry drivers on South Africa's roads, for a giraffe has died after hitting a bridge!"
A Second Giraffe Dies
Investigations have emerged that a second giraffe died, allegedly while being captured at the Meyersdal Eco Estate. Ainsley Hay of Wildlife Protection at the NSPCA has confirmed that they are investigating the incident: "Animals dying in game capture operation – that is not normal."
The Scripture is clear: "A good man takes care of his animals, but the wicked men are cruel to theirs." Proverbs 12:10
Another example of cruelty to animals was the discovery of 82 dead farm animals, including decomposing pigs, chickens, geese and sheep discovered on a farm owned by Thandi Modise, a leading ANC leader and chairwoman of the National Council of Provinces.
"How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished." Jeremiah 12:4
Saving Madiba's Cattle
Then the alarm was sounded that the cattle of previous President Nelson Mandela were starving in the fields outside Mandela's Qunu homestead. The provincial government was required to rush in animal feed and veterinarians to save the neglected herd. The once green pasture had turned to dust and the cattle were grazing on dirt and patches of dry grass.
The Farm Manager, Siyakudumisa Gabada described the situation on the farm as "Extremely difficult" and worrying. His personal responsibility as Farm Manager seemed to have slipped his mind. His comments seemed more appropriate to an observer than that of the person actually responsible.
Mandela's grandson, Chief Mandla Mandela acknowledged that the cattle were "not in a satisfactory condition." He commented: "Around this time of year, as a community, we lose a lot of cattle and sheep due to drought. As you can see there is barely any grass on the farm. There are also other challenges, like the management of overgrazing on the farm."
A Matter of Trust
In his will, Nelson Mandela had stated that it was his wish that the farming operations at Qunu continue after his death and that the Nelson Mandela Family Trust continue to employ the manager now running the operations and to find a suitable person, should he no longer be available to do it.
When 30 of the bulls were torturously castrated and many dehorned, there was a further outcry. Considering that Nelson Mandela was a patron of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) this has been deeply troubling.
The ritual killing of a bull at the First Fruits Festival (Ukweshwma) where young men are to kill a bull with their bare hands, has been the focus of legal controversy as some claim that such cultural ceremonies are protected in terms of the Constitution. However, the Animals Protection Act is meant to prevent the very cruelty and torture which Ukweshwma involves.
A Culture of Cruelty
Chief Mlaba admits "It's cruelty we agree, but it’s our culture. We cannot change our culture! For 40 minutes, dozens trampled the bellowing, groaning bull, wrenched its head around by the horns, to try to break its neck, pulled its tongue out, stuffed sand in its mouth and even tried to tie its penis in a knot. Gleaming with sweat, they raised their arms and sang in triumph and sang while the bull finally succumbed."
Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Congo, Kenya, Zimbabwe and delegates from the African Network for Animal Welfare signed the petition calling on the South African Parliament to halt Ukweshwma, but so far to no avail. Can torture and cruelty really be justified in the name of culture?
"Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." Romans 8:21
Illegal and Unhygienic
Then there are the illegal slaughter houses, "Slabattoirs", that involve unhygienic and inhuman practices without any Vets to check the animals, nor trained Health Inspectors to make sure the meat does not contain any potentially harmful parasites.
Health Time Bombs
Allan Perrins of the SPCA describes these Slabattoirs as "health time-bombs", which need to be shut down to prevent the spread of potentially fatal diseases. The SPCA condemned the inhuman treatment and slaughter of the animals. These Slabattoirs violate both health and environmental bylaws, breaking the Animals Protection Act and the Meat Safety Act.
In the light of the clear teaching of Scripture concerning Creation and mankind's responsibility for it, we should treat animals with the love and concern of those who must give an account of our conduct to Almighty God. We must recognise that the welfare and protection of animals is an essential part of our Christian responsibility. We must do all that we can to secure the wellbeing of all animals, who, with ourselves, inhabit the earth and so fulfil the creative joy and purposes of Almighty God.
"For we must all appear before the Judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." 2 Corinthians 5:10
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa