Public Protector to monitor Zulu bull-killing ritual

2010-12-09 00:00

THE Public Protector will monitor the ritual barehanded killing of a bull by Zulu warriors set to take place at the u Mkhosi woKweShwama or First Fruits Festival this year.

The announcement comes as efforts by animal rights activists to halt the bull-killing at the King’s palace eNyokeni in northern KwaZulu-Natal have been abandoned, for this year at least.

Vukani Mbhele, spokesperson for the KZN Department of Arts and Culture, confirmed the event will go ahead from December 15 to 19.

He said the department is working with Social Development, Health, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the Office of the Premier, and Education to draw people to the event and provide transport and other logistics.

All departments involved met yesterday “to finalise the budget”.

At the request of Compassion in World Farming-SA, the Public Protector has agreed to send a member of staff to witness the bare-handed killing of the bull on December 18.

A statement from the farm animal rights campaign yesterday said that since the KZN government supports and funds the event, “we believed it was the obligation of the Public Protector to ascertain whether reports that the bull is subjected to massive cruelty are true …”.

Said Tozie Zokufa, SA representative of Compassion in World Farming, “If true, all future such events will not only be unconstitutional, but also in contravention of the Animal Protection Act.

“When this matter came before the court last year, the judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to determine whether the ritual was cruel.

“Today’s written agreement by the Public Protector’s office to witness the event and report back is a positive step forward,” said Zokufa.

A spokesperson for the Public Protector, Oupa Segalwe, confirmed it would send advocate Sipho Cishe to witness the event, but said it would not be recorded on film.

“The representative will be there to observe how the bull will be killed, in light of the concerns raised by Compassion in World Farming-SA, in that the manner in which it is killed is allegedly unconstitutional and in violation of the Animals Protection Act,” he said.

The Witness understands that advocate Cishe will not be accompanied by the National SPCA, which is mandated to monitor contraventions of the rights of animals.

A source in Compassion in World Farming-SA said the campaigners have asked the NSPCA to be available to accompany the Public Protector representative to the event, but have received no response.

NSPCA spokesperson Christi Kuch declined to comment when approached by The Witness yesterday.

Steve Smit of Animal Rights Africa (ARA) said they were disappointed by the outcome of the legal action they launched last year to try to stop the barehanded killing of the bull. “The judicial system failed the bull. We had a strong case with evidence of animal cruelty.”

He also expressed his disappointment with the NSPCA, which, he said, declined to support ARA’s legal action out of fear for their workers’ safety.

Smit said a witness to the bull killing previously had issued a statement detailing the cruelty involved, but was intimidated and backtracked.

While no last-minute interventions to try and halt the bull killing have been planned by ARA for this year, it is hoping to get solid witnesses and evidence of cruelty at the event this year.

“We are also hoping that King Goodwill Zwelithini may at his discretion put a moratorium on the bull killing because of the controversy which surrounds it. We still have hope.”

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