Ex-MEC faces animal cruelty charges

2009-08-14 17:03

Johannesburg - Former North West agriculture MEC Jan Serfontein is facing nine charges under the Animal Protection Act, police said on Friday.

"A total of nine charges had been laid in terms of the Animal Protection Act, including torture and animal cruelty," said Director Daan le Grange.

The charges were laid by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty (NSPCA).

Serfontein and his son, Jan junior, are the owners of one of the three biggest chicken farms in the country - Boskop Layer Chicks in Potchefstroom.

They stand accused of dumping tens of thousands of male chicks in an empty farm dam and leaving them to die every week, because they were "economically worthless".

Common practice

One of their former workers, Kobus van Zyl, made videos of the practice which he handed over to TV show Carte Blanche.

Van Zyl said sometimes it would take up to five days for the chicks to die, mainly of starvation or suffocation.

"Killing newborn male chicks is practised in the poultry industry. Males cannot lay eggs and are therefore considered to be of no economic value," the NSPCA said in a statement on Friday.

"There are accepted practices within the industry that dictate how unhatched eggs and day-old chicks are disposed of."

The Serfonteins' lawyer, George Gibbens, was not immediately available for comment on Friday.