Johannesburg — Political parties on Tuesday denounced National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chairwoman Thandi Modise, following criticism of her controversial North West farm.
The Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters expressed disgust at the cruelty in which the animals were living.
"The [EFF] is utterly disgusted by... Thandi Modise's negligence on the farm which was bought with a government loan," EFF Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu said in a statement.
"It is despicable and extremely negligent for anyone to leave animals of whichever kind to suffer to the extent that animals at Thandi Modise's animal farm suffered, particularly the extent that animals had to feed of each other's carcasses for survival."
DA national spokesman Marius Redelinghuys accused Modise of allowing her animals to die of hunger and thirst, subjecting them to unnecessary suffering and driving the surviving animals to cannibalism.
"This is a clear contravention of the Animal Protection Act. Modise should face the consequences for breaking the law, just like any other person," said Redelinghuys.
Police and officials of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) went to the farm on Saturday where dead and dying animals were found.
These included pigs, sheep, geese, goats and ducks.
It appeared the animals had been without water and food for around two weeks. There were no farmworkers on the property, no electricity, and the water pumps were broken.
The Sunday Independent reported that the surviving 85 pigs on the farm had begun cannibalising 58 dead pigs, and were reportedly drinking their own urine.
Shivambu said the EFF did not accept Modise's explanation for the situation at the farm. He also questioned Modise's explanation that the suffering that the animals endured did not compare to the financial loss that she suffered.
"The EFF is further appalled by the revelation that Modise's
animal farm was bought through a loan from the Land Bank, which she acquired when she was still the premier of the North West province," he said.
The DA's Redelinghuys said there were a number of unanswered questions as to why Modise's farmworkers left her farm unattended in the first place.
"We await the outcome of the police investigation into what happened at Modise's farm. Those responsible should face the consequences as set out in the Animal Protection Act," he said.
Modise also received support. The African National Congress and the North West rural development department have defended her.
ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said the ANC had been briefed by Modise regarding the matter and shared her feelings that the situation was unfortunate and indeed should not have happened.
"We are satisfied that she is taking the necessary measures to correct the situation and to ensure it is avoided in future."
North West rural development MEC Manketsi Tlhape committed her department to working together with the team handling the matter by providing the needed veterinary support.
Tlhape said while Modise had, as an emerging farmer and owner of the farm, never approached the department for provision of veterinary services or anything related to farm management practices since privately acquiring this farm about four years ago, the situation called for immediate specialised support.
"Our pledge in this regard is guided by the responsibility bestowed upon us as the department, that of improving the quality of animal health by preventing and controlling animal diseases through vaccination programmes, rendering of clinical diagnosis, veterinary public health service and provision of animal feed," she said in a statement.