Lawyers get ready for Thandi Modise animal cruelty private prosecution

Thandi Modise. (File, Netwerk24)
Thandi Modise. (File, Netwerk24)

The team representing National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise, has been given the opportunity to prepare for her animal cruelty trial.

Modise appeared in the Potchefstroom Regional Court on Monday morning where lobby group, AfriForum, handed her defence the charge sheet in the matter.

The case was postponed to October 30 to allow for the legal teams to prepare.

"The two legal teams will be able to discuss the matter and on October 30, we will be able to set down the date for the case to start. With the charge sheet handed over to the defence, [it] allows [them] to prepare for the case," AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel told News24.

AfriForum is accusing the former North West premier and chairperson of the National Council of Provinces of leaving her farm in the province unattended, causing the death of more than 50 pigs and other animals, including geese, ducks, sheep and goats in 2014.

After Modise failed to appear in court on June 21, a warrant for her arrest was issued, SABC News reported.

Parliament, however, denied the claims, saying there was an agreement between the parties to postpone the matter because Modise could not attend because she had been chairing President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of The Nation Address on June 20, News24 previously reported.

"It's a malicious distortion. The hearing was postponed by agreement of all parties and the court," Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo told News24.

Modise is being prosecuted privately by AfriForum. Advocate Gerrie Nel heads the organisation's private prosecution unit.

Nel is acting on behalf of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) in the case.

"The fact that the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) decided not to prosecute Thandi Modise even though there was a strong case against her, is a serious breach of the principle of equality before the law. Modise cannot be treated differently than other citizens by the NPA simply because she occupies an important political position.

"AfriForum's private prosecution unit was particularly established to intervene in cases such as this of Modise, where the NPA is failing in its duty, seemingly due to political reasons, to prosecute privately to help ensure justice," Kriel said.

AfriForum has also announced that it intends to privately prosecute another person on behalf of the NSPCA.

"This entails the private prosecution of Leon Thom, owner of Malati Dairy in Gravelotte, Limpopo. Despite various warnings and attempts by the NSPCA to put a stop to the alleged unnecessary confinement and chaining of Thom's dairy calves, the confinement and chaining continued.

"The NSPCA has, in terms of the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1993 (Act No. 169 of 1993), the statutory powers to privately prosecute offenders where the NPA declines to do so," Kriel said.

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