Modise's farm was the most dangerous - award winning inspector

2015-06-04 17:28


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Johannesburg - An NSPCA inspector, who won a heroism award, said on Thursday one of the most dangerous situations she ever encountered was at the farm of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chairperson Thandi Modise.

"The one incident that stands out the most is when we were locked into Thandi Modise's farm," Senior Inspector Grace De Lange told News24.

"They threatened our lives and they threatened to burn our car. Even in front of the media, one person threatened us with an axe."

De Lange, a senior inspector for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA), received the medal of heroism award at the Intelligence Transfer Centre’s eighth annual leadership for women in law enforcement conference last week.

She said incidents of intimidation only made her work harder at her job.

"Incidents like this make me more determined to do my job. Animals can't talk to us and tell us what's happening - it is up to us to protect them."

She said her last update on Modise's farm was from two weeks ago.

"We are still waiting a year later for an affidavit from Ms Modise," she said.

The NCOP chairperson's office could not be immediately reached for comment.

Starving and dead animals

Last July police and NSPCA inspectors found starving and dead animals on Modise's farm Modderfontein near Potchefstroom in the North West.

About 85 live pigs had begun cannibalising 58 dead pigs and were reportedly drinking their own urine. Sheep, geese, goats and ducks were also among the more than 100 dead animals. Many more had to be put down.

It appeared the animals had been without water and food for possibly two weeks. There were no farm workers on the property, no electricity and the water pumps were broken.

In May this year, Dr Sameer Abbas, a veterinary surgeon practicing in Potchefstroom, appeared before an independent disciplinary committee at the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) for unprofessional conduct.

He allegedly refused to hand over evidence and reports related to the criminal charges laid against Modise after he took photographs and samples and performed a post-mortem on a sheep from the farm.

He later said he no longer wanted to be involved in the matter.

According to the NSPCA, the committee found Abbas guilty on two charges of contravening the SAVC rules. His license to practice was suspended for six months, the suspension itself being suspended for two years.

Passion for animals

The NSPCA said in a statement on Thursday that De Lange had a passion for farm animals.

"Her commitment to these animals over the years has resulted in her accompanying farm animals on ships to other countries to monitor their welfare. This is often undertaken under difficult and threatening circumstances.

"She has responded to emergency calls at midnight; travelled far distances and spent many days away from home to ensure the well-being of animals. Her life has been threatened on more than one occasion in the execution of her duties to prevent the abuse of animals and alleviate their suffering."

De Lange told News24 she always had an affinity for farm animals.

"From when I was a child, I loved and wanted to protect animals."

She said she was most proud of helping to fight against the production of foie gras in South Africa.

"As a unit we worked to stop production of foie gras. The production of foie gras is illegal in South Africa."

Foie gras is the liver of a duck or goose that has been force-fed and specially fattened. 

She said a balance had to be struck between the demands of people wanting to eat meat and humane conditions for livestock.

"We are not against people eating meat. All we are saying is when animals are farmed, it has to done in a humane manner."

The NSPCA’s Farm Animal Protection Unit manager Andries Venter said in a statement De Lange helped to successfully prosecute owners of a farm that held ducks and force-fed them to a point of abuse.

“Grace is an asset to the NSPCA, a dedicated employee and committed animal welfarist. She is responsible for monitoring and improving the welfare conditions of farmed animals in the country, currently focusing on the poultry industry," Venter said. 

"Grace’s compassion extends to all animals whether they be farm, wild, domestic or aquatic and she will not turn a blind eye to animal suffering. We are proud of her achievements and proud to have her on our team."

Read more on:    thandi modise  |  mahikeng  |  animals
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