ARA will continue ‘bull’ fight

2009-11-26 00:00

ANIMAL Rights Africa (ARA) have vowed to continue their fight to halt the bare-handed killing of a bull at the Zulu royal kraal in Nongoma during this year’s annual Festival of the First Fruits.

This comes after the group went to the high court in Pietermaritzburg to stop the killing. The matter was adjourned to December 1, to allow the respondents time to file opposing do­cuments.

ARA said they are also disappointed by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s decision to boycott a meeting called to discuss the bull-killing ritual.

“Sadly, it appears that the king remains unwilling to enter into any dialogue or mediation, and is clearly not prepared to support the efforts of the commission,” the organisation’s Stev­e Smit stated.

Tuesday’s meeting was convened by Pat Mkhize, commissioner for the promotion and protection of the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities, to try and resolve a dispute over the Ukweshwama ritual.

“We agreed to the meeting in the hope of reaching some kind of amicable agreement that would result in the suspension of the bull-killing event at this year’s Nongoma festival,” said Smit

Zwelithini’s spokesman Nhlanhla Mataka said they didn’t go to the meeting as they felt it unnecessary.

“We hold a view that if there was to be a meeting to discuss customs and culture, all cultural groups should be invited. Why single out Zulus?” he said on Tuesday.

Smit said he was disappointed that only representatives from Premier Zweli Mkhize’s office came to the talks.

ARA argues that during the Ukweshwama ritual, men pull out the bull’s tongue, stuff sand in its mouth and try to tie its penis in a knot.

ARA is acting in the interests of an animal that would die in a manner that contravened the Animal Protection Act, the National Environmental Management Act, and the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, said Smit.

IFP has accused the ARA of being biased in their campaign to stop the ritual. Speaking during the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature sitting yesterday, IFP MPL Bles­sed Gwala said that ARA has never raised a voice of protest against the painful manner in which fish are hooked out of the water by fishermen almost daily, which, according to the IFP, is as torturous.

The motion he tabled before the legislature yesterday stated that they find it strange that the ARA has chosen to make a public noise about the Zulu custom, when they did not approach Zwelithini long before the season for this ceremony arrived.

Gwala said it was also strange that the same organisation has never raised a voice against Spanish bullfighting, which he called a game of teasing a bull until it dies.

“We applaud the king’s represen­tatives who refused to attend a meeting with [ARA], whose objective was apparently to twist their arms to abandon our customs.

“The whole approach of these so-called activists, in our view, is intended to disdainfully depict His Majesty and the Zulu nation as people … still trapped in darkness.”

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