DA wants explanation over award to KZN farmer

2018-10-19 15:29
Ukwanda Farm Ltd is under fire for cruelty to animals.

Ukwanda Farm Ltd is under fire for cruelty to animals.

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The DA in KwaZulu-Natal is preparing a parliamentary question to force the provincial Department of Agriculture to explain how a farmer previously charged with cruelty to animals won a prestigious farming award in 2015.

Hlengiwe Hlophe was named top entrepreneur for commercial farming by the department despite the National SPCA investigating her farm, Ukwanda Farm Ltd, in 2014 for neglecting animals.

The NSPCA said it had at the time informed the department of the investigation, yet she was still given the award, which came with prize money of R300 000.

The farm in Winterton was raided by the NSPCA last week after the organisation obtained a warrant to remove the remaining pigs because warnings about their welfare were not heeded by Hlophe. The NSPCA is planning to lay criminal charges again.

Pigs recovered appeared famished and were covered in sores.

Ukwanda is co-owned by Hlophe and her husband, Mike Mjiyakho.

It is described on Hlophe’s LinkedIn page as specialising in egg production and running a piggery.

Sizwe Mchunu, the DA spokesperson on agriculture in KZN, said the party decided to write a formal parliamentary question.

“It was quite an intriguing story, and it talks to serious gaps that exist within government — especially the Department of Agriculture,” he said.

“Surely before they [the department] identified who should win the award, they should investigate the people. What kind of investigation should they do before she was awarded? It’s a situation the department must account for.”

He added: “It’s an insult to the system of awards and … to emergent farmers who work honourably.”

The KZN Department of Agriculture once again did not respond to a query. A spokesperson said the department was busy compiling a report to give to The Witness explaining the issue.

Hlophe did not respond to calls or SMSes.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  animal cruelty

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