Man admits to horse neglect

2009-09-30 00:00

MIDLANDS farmer Murray Smith (52), who yesterday admitted to neglect of horses in his care, was sentenced to a fine of R20 000 (or 12 months’ imprisonment) all suspended for five years on condition he doesn’t commit a similar offence again and that he delivers 20 bales of hay a month to the Kloof SPCA horse care unit for the next 41 months.

This is to compensate the SPCA for the expenses it incurred for treating and subsequently caring for Smith’s horses, which have all since been surrendered to the horse care unit.

Four horses died of various ailments, according to evidence.

Smith yesterday changed his plea from not guilty to one of guilty on a single charge relating to neglect of 16 horses under his control at Fig Tree Farm in Camperdown between December 2006 and May 2008.

State prosecutor Ryan Peo told Camperdown magistrate Linus Phoswa that the state and defence held discussions, which led to the state agreeing to close its case against Smith on two other charges that he allegedly starved or underfed and failed to provide the horses with clean drinking water, and that he kept them in a “dirty parasitic condition” and failed to render veterinary or medical treatment to them.

The court discharged Smith on these charges.

Explaining how the neglect of the horses came about, Smith said in a statement he employed a groom to look after his horses at Fig Tree Farm because he was unable to do so himself.

At the time he was living at Mid-Illovo.

He said it became increasingly difficult for him to supervise the groom due to his other obligations (on the family farm, which was held in trust and which became embroiled in a civil dispute with the trustees).

“I acknowledge that by leaving the groom unsupervised I foresaw and appreciated that the horses may be neglected,” he said.

Smith said he was unable to visit the horses at Fig Tree farm on a sufficiently regular basis, which led to their not receiving immediate attention for tick infestation, cracked hooves, abscesses and infected wounds.

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