Leading Zulus silent on SPCA’s repeated attempts to raise bull-killing issue

2009-11-28 00:00

AS Animal Rights Africa (ARA) braces for the court case set down for the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday, in which it will challenge the bare-handed killing of a bull at the Zulu royal kraal in Nongoma during this year’s annual Festival of the First Fruits, many have asked where the SPCA support has been in this matter.

Weekend Witness asked the National SPCA what efforts it is making to oppose the bull killing.

Chris Kuch, spokesperson for the NSPCA, said that despite many attempts to raise the matter with Zulu cultural authorities since 2005, their communications have fallen on deaf ears.

The Zulu cultural event, traditionally celebrating the coming-of-age of Zulu warriors, originally involved the killing of wild buffalo, said Kuch, but now involves cattle.

“The NSPCA acknowledges the cultural symbolism and recognises the traditional value … but stands firmly and determinedly opposed to the handling and method of killing the animal(s).

“Objections to the current practices are that a bull is released into an enclosed area where there are approximately 40 young warriors, aged from about 14.

“There are spectators in a sports-stand type of construction. People are bused in to this event and it is open to general tourism; certainly it is not limited to traditional Zulus.”

Kuch listed the incidents that the NSPCA objects to and believes are violations of the Animals Protection Act No. 71 of 1962.

These include choking the animal by pushing sand or mud down its throat, gouging out its eyes to “down” the animal, twisting its testicles and tying its penis until the animal succumbs.

It is then jumped on, kicked and beaten until it dies, usually about 40 minutes after the event begins.

She said all efforts by the NSPCA to hold round-table discussions to “uplift and motivate enlightened change” have failed.

“The NSPCA’s efforts to open dialogue on the question of handling and method of killing the animal(s) have been ongoing for years,” Kuch added.

She listed eight people, including IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi, former premier ’Sbu Ndebele and Royal Household spokesman Vusi Shongwe whom they have contacted, many repeatedly, since 2005 on the issue. In many cases, she said, they have had no reponse, and no one has taken any action.

The Witness quoted Steve Smit of the ARA this week saying he is disappointed by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s decision to boycott a meeting called to discuss the bull-killing ritual.

The meeting was convened by Pat Mkhize, commissioner for the promotion and protection of the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities.

Zwelithini’s spokesman, Nhlanhla Mataka, said at the time they did not attend as they felt it unnecessary.

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

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