Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: Who Are the Seal Activists?

Right from the start of their investigation, Namibia Seal Conservation (NSC) established that some of the animal rights activists are extremely deceptive and that they are mostly lying about their cause. It was also established that these animal rights activists are not qualified environmentalists, nor conservationists, and that there are personal financial motives behind their so-called cause.

First on the list is Francois Hugo from Seal Alert South Africa who loves to live a life of luxury with his jet-skis, catamarans and Jeep Cherokees. It is the same Hugo who offered to buy out Hatem Yavuz the world renowned furrier with more than US$5 million in donations he received for this purpose, yet could not get it right.

One only wonders what Hugo use these donations for in the meantime? During his initial meeting with the Ombudsman he claimed that the National Council of SPCAs are in alliance with the animal right activists. In an answer to a letter addressed by NSC to the NSPCA, Senior Inspector, Mr. A. Venter, the National Special Project Unit manager of the NSPCA replied: "We distanced ourselves from both the alliance and Mr. Hugo since before, during and after the meeting, which was communicated to Mr. Hugo and all relevant parties. Needless to say there is no alliance."

Hugo has a previous criminal conviction for assaulting a teenage boy (by striking him in his face) who was in the vicinity of 'his' seals. This man who is a dressmaker by occupation and who has no formal qualification in conservation principles, has also been charged and found guilty of offences relating to poaching of highly protected abalone and crayfish in a nature reserve. Charges brought against him and another individual for blackmail were later dropped. This conduct is hardly befitting of someone who claims to be an environmentalist and ironically, who condemns a country as "genocidal", for harvesting their own resources.

The second antagonist, and sometimes the so-called representative of Francois Hugo, Pat Dickens is easily the more obscure member of the duo. He claims to have left the corporate world, sold his bike to pursue his dream to save our seals. He was previously employed by another animal rights organisation, Sea Shepherd. He has a long list of convictions ranging from common theft to convictions related to drugs and drunken driving. When asked to comment on his convictions he claimed that he fell into a deep depression after his brother was murdered, yet some of these criminal offences were committed prior to his brother's death. On his face book page he claims to have studied anthropology, yet he fails to mention to his supporters that he never qualified at any tertiary institution.

It is this same Pat Dickens who supplied the following instruction manual regarding the treatment of fur traders on a face book site: "Know of a fur retailer? Here are some ideas that are guaranteed to annoy any trader. One small tube of instant super glue. Does WONDERS to their lock. My personal favourite is watching the said retailer from the coffee shop opposite as he once again struggles to open shop. Follow the store owner to discover what vehicle he drives. If you can get access to his fuel tank, 3 cups of sugar will destroy his engine. Alternatively brake fluid splashed all over the body of the car will kill the paint job permanently if left to stand for about an hour. The only way to get rid of it is to sand the paint off completely and respray."

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