SOUTH AFRICAN animal welfarists are up in arms over the country's new sheep export deal with Kuwaiti company, Al Mawashi.

Ahead of a reported 70,000 head live export by sea to the Middle East, the National Council of SPCAs voiced grave concerns about the fate of animals arriving at ports slowed down or shut by COVID-19 restrictions.

"This is a monumental cause for concern – when livestock carriers have become stranded with live animals in the past, the consequences have been catastrophic to both the animals and the crew on board," said NSPCA spokesperson Marcelle Meredith.

“We have grave concerns and we consider this an open warning to the Government, Al Mawashi, and any other role player involved in this shipment, should the ship carrying South Africa’s sheep be stranded," said Ms Meredith. "The COVID-19 outbreak is well publicised and the risks are clear, if the ship is permitted to go and becomes stranded, the aforementioned entities will be held accountable."

The charity has also dismissed as 'propaganda' official claims that the ongoing Middle East export deal has been struck to benefit South Africa's grass roots farmers, pointing out official documents from the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform that confirmed only 11 small-scale 'emerging' farmers benefitted from the multimillion deal.

"On the shipment that left South Africa in October 2019, 56,002 sheep were loaded onto the Al Shuwaikh vessel – of those 56,002 sheep, a dismal 4410 sheep were from emerging farmers," said NSPCA. "That is not even 8% of the sheep that left South Africa. The claim that this deal is helping the emerging farmers is mere propaganda."


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