SOUTH Africa’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) recently confiscated 68 starving and emaciated horses belonging to the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).
The horses were being kept on a small plot in Hobhouse in the Free State, about 131km from Bloemfontein. The farm belongs to the LDF.
“They were on the South African side of the border and we got our authority from a magistrate to work there and to remove the animals,” Bloemfontein SPCA senior inspector Reinet Meyer this week told South Africa’s News24.
“The Bloemfontein SPCA went to investigate and found six horses that were already dead. A further three horses were flat on the ground and in very poor condition. These three horses were in terrible pain and suffering. They couldn’t get up at all and were terribly weak and starving. The horses were completely dehydrated. Euthanasia was promptly administered to them by the Bloemfontein SPCA inspectors,” said Meyer.
Yesterday, the LDF confirmed the Monday incident with LDF Public Relations Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Mashili Mashili telling the Lesotho Times that some of the horses, which were kept at the LDF farm in South Africa, “had been attacked by a certain disease”.
He said the LDF command was aware of the situation and had already begun bringing back home the stricken animals so that they could be properly fed and nursed back to health by people with the “right expertise”.
“What is happened is that the horses were in a bad state health wise and the South African SPCA went to the farm to notify the people keeping them that they were not taking proper care of the animals. They were not in good condition and our people had already commenced a programme to vaccinate them but when they were in the process of doing that the SPCA people returned and confiscated the animals.
“The command had already noted that there was a problem because the people looking after the animals at the farm are not experts. The LDF has a farm in South Africa where we keep different types of animals including cows, sheep and horses. So the problem was that the horses were attacked by a certain disease and people who were looking after them did not have the expertise in dealing with the situation.
“They (SPCA) have not taken all the horses, they just took the diseased ones. We had already decided to bring back those diseased horses. On Monday when they (SPCA) went to the farm to confiscate the horses, they found that we had already sent a vehicle to bring them back to Lesotho. We had already brought home 15 horses so that we would see how best to feed them and nurse them back to good health,” Lt-Col Mashili said.
SPCA inspector Tebogo Maswanganye said SPCA officials were shocked at the state of the horses.
“I spent time with the horses and observed them. All the horses look so depressed. It’s a cold feeling to be in their presence. Their soul is completely broken and they are very down. The horses showed no emotion or any sign of energy,” said inspector Maswanganye.
The surviving horses are said to be in a better condition in the care of the SPCA.
Incidentally, the LDF are not alone in failing to properly care for their animals as the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is reportedly failing to take care of its horses at its Special Infantry Capability (SAASIC) unit in the North West province.
“We laid charges against the SANDF and we were at the base where they were beating and kicking the horses,” SPCA spokesperson Meg Wilson told News24, adding, “We received no feedback from the defence ministry, our case has just been ignored”.
The SPCA confiscated the horses in May 2018, following evidence of starvation and beating.