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Zuma asked to end bull ritual

2009-11-05 14:53

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma was asked to intervene to end the bull killing ritual of Ukweshwama in a letter released by Indian animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi on Thursday.

The letter, written on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) Asia, expresses concern that the ritual, practised during the "First Fruits" festival, before crops are harvested, is exempt from animal protection laws on the grounds of "cultural liberty".

"In the ritual, a group of young men torture and kill a bull with their bare hands, pulling the terrified and struggling animal to the ground, ripping out his tongue, shoving handfuls of dirt into his mouth, tearing out his eyes, mutilating his genitals and engaging in other cruel acts until the bull is finally dead," the former politician wrote.

No excuse for cruelty


"While I respect culture, this bull-killing ritual causes extreme suffering to an innocent creature and has no place in the modern world."

She continued: "Tradition is not an excuse for cruelty, and many societies have ended or are working to end 'traditional' practices - such as slavery, cannibalism, infanticide, female circumcision, foot-binding, bullfighting and fox hunting - that cause animals or humans to suffer."

She said there was a link between cruelty to animals and violent crimes against humans.

"Surely, this is not a 'value' that you want to instil in the citizens of KwaZulu-Natal."

She concluded that traditions changed and societies evolved and that Zuma should not allow South Africa to be seen as "barbaric and retrograde by clinging to the cruel ritual of Ukweshwama".