Police, vets and members of the Animal Anti-Cruelty League (AACL) have rushed to Fairview Racecourse in Port Elizabeth where a horse was killed and several injured, allegedly by disgruntled workers who freed and attacked the animals with pangas.
According to police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu, a case of malicious injury to property has been opened and is under investigation, and additional charges may be added.
Naidu has confirmed that a “mob” of about 150 to 200 protesters from the Fairview informal settlement stormed onto the property of Fairview stables and freed about 28 horses early on Thursday morning.
At Fairview a horse kicked the one worker, he then stabbed the horse. He got fired & the community came to protested at the stables. This morning at 5 they open the stables, stabbed & chased horses out. The one champion is now missing. pic.twitter.com/2ftKd4Vpgr
— SALTruckers (@SALTruckers) September 17, 2020
She says at about 6am police responded to a complaint of the angry protesters who entered the property and allegedly broke the locks of the stables.
“The horses were freed and were forced out of the property by assaulting them. They were reported to be running in all directions with their abusers taunting them with sticks and stones. One horse was found dead about a kilometre away in an opening near the houses. It is alleged that it was stabbed and assaulted.”
According to Naidu, all the horses have been accounted for and the injured horses are receiving treatment by the Port Elizabeth AACL vets. “At this stage the exact reason for the protest and subsequent death, injury and release of the horses is not known,” she adds.
Public Order Policing, the community, security companies, specialised police units as well as SAPS Kabega Park members were on the scene assisting the stabling staff in rounding up the traumatised racehorses.
According to AACL inspector Beverly Rademeyer, the community as still reeling from the trauma and shock of the violent act. According to The Herald, a large group of people including grooms, were at the racecourse at around 6am on Thursday morning when the chaos ensued.
“Vets are on the scene, they are stabilisinig the situation and providing medical care to the injured horses. The horses will be evacuated to a place of safety, because these people are going to come back. They will come back because whatever grievances they had which led to this has not been addressed,” said Rademeyer, who was evidently still in shock as she tearfully described the scene which greeted her at the racecourse.
“I cannot imagine what must have been going through in their minds as they stood there helpless in their little enclosures while being attacked so viciously and so senselessly. What kind of dispute would lead someone to hurt a defenseless animal who has nothing to do with it?”
Phumelela Gaming said in a statement that “a protest initiated by grooms formerly employed by leading Port Elizabeth trainer Yvette Bremner quickly escalated and turned violent. Several horses in Bremner’s care were let out of their stables and chased out of the complex by the crowd”.
“One of Bremner’s charges, Mark The Doorman, died in the unrest and others were injured.
“Phumelela is liaising with the Department of Labour in a bid to resolve the dispute between Bremner and her former employees, and has also called in additional private security personnel to assist the police in protecting people and horses in the complex.
“The situation is being monitored closely and a decision will be made later about tomorrow’s race meeting at the track.
“Phumelela intends to pursue all avenues with law-and-order officials to ensure that all those responsible for the unrest are prosecuted.”
Police are also warning social media users to refrain from posting false information relating to the incident as this can cause the current situation to escalate into confusion and retaliatory conduct by the community. “Any person who publishes, distributes, discloses, transmits, circulates or spreads false information or fake news is guilty of an offence and may be prosecuted,”says Naidu.