Kuwaiti-based animal exporter Al Mawashi may export 56,000 of its 72,000 sheep by ship under strict conditions, the high court sitting in Makhanda ruled today.
The judgment will be a bitter blow to the National Council of SPCAs which sought to keep in place an urgent interim interdict forbidding the export of the 72,000 sheep to the Middle East. The sheep are being kept at the Castledale feedlot near East London.
The NSPCA wanted the interim order to remain in place pending its much bigger court application in which it is asking the court to prohibit in its entirety the export of sheep by ship across the equator – a practice it says is inhumane and cruel.
In a four-page structural court order acting judge Nceba Dukada instead ruled that the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development should strictly monitor the loading and transport of the sheep to ensure Al Mawashi complied with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare regulations. The NSPCA contended in papers that these requirements are less onerous than the Animal Protection Act which it says is the appropriate measure to apply in South Africa.
Dukada ordered the department to report its findings to the court in an affidavit within a day of the sheep being loaded.
Only if there was compliance with OIE regulations could Al Mawashi then apply for an export permit
Dukada indicated that he would provide reasons for his order by September 15.
Both Al Mawashi and the NSPCA said they would comment in due course.
The Al Messilah ship belonging to Al Mawashi has been docked at East London harbour awaiting the outcome of the court case. Al Mawashi claimed in court papers the maintenance of the sheep combined with the harbour fees was costing it R1m a day.