The long-awaited trial brought on by the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) to charge National Assembly (NA) Speaker Thandi Modise with animal cruelty is finally underway.
Modise was charged with six counts of animal cruelty, after the NSPCA received a complaint in July 2014 that animals residing on her farm were neglected.
The scene inspectors stumbled upon on Modise’s farm in the North West was one of the worst they had observed – animals were reportedly found cannibalising each other, due to the lack of food and water; eating their young; and drinking their own urine to survive.
More than 50 dead pigs, as well as geese, ducks, sheep and goats were found, many of which were euthanised. The remaining 85 pigs were eating the rotten carcasses of other pigs.
The high-profile case has hit many bumps along the way in getting Modise to court.
In 2015, the NSPCA had to lay a complaint against veterinarian Dr Sameer Abbas for allegedly refusing to hand over evidence and reports relating to the charges against Modise.
Abbas’s license to practice was suspended for six months after being found guilty in December 2017.
In October 2019, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) told the NSPCA that they had opted not to prosecute Modise, prompting considerations of a private prosecution, which would be led by advocate Gerrie Nel.
Years after being charged, Modise was a no-show at her trial in March, citing Covid-19 as the reason for her failure to appear, she said in July in the Potchefstroom Magistrate’s Court.
Nel argued that Modise had previously cited “work commitments” when she was due to appear in court in June 2019. But the court accepted Modise’s reasons for not appearing, but warned that she must act responsibly going forward.
Modise’s trial was a then set for 1 December to 3 December.
“The NSPCA, as always, has not given up. It can take months, it can take years, it can take decades but we will continue to pursue cruelty cases to ensure justice is served for those who suffered unnecessarily.
“It has taken almost seven years to reach this point, and we are hopeful that justice will prevail,” said executive director of the NSPCA, Marcelle Meredith.
According to reports, Modise has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her in the Potchefstroom Magistrate’s Court.
#Aminalcruetly National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise has pleaded not guilty to six charges of animal cruelty at the Potchefstroom Magistrate Court. This relates to a 2014 case where hundreds of animals were left unattended at her Modderfontein Farm in the North West.
— Manqoba Mchunu (@ManqobaMchunu) December 1, 2020
Compiled by Nica Richards.
This is a developing story. Updates to follow as more information is made available.