- National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise is currently on trial for animal cruelty relating to dead and emaciated animals found on her farm in the North West.
- The man tasked with looking after the animals on the farm, said he left because he had no food and had not been paid.
- Modise's legal representative, advocate Dali Mpofu SC, told the court that it was the caretaker who had abandoned and confined the animals.
The man tasked with looking after National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise's animals says he left her North West farm because he hadn't been paid and had no food.
This was revealed in the Potchefstroom Regional Court, where Modise is being privately prosecuted for animal cruelty by AfriForum's Private Prosecution Unit on behalf of the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA).
Modise had been charged with six counts of animal cruelty relating to the dozens of animals that died or were emaciated on her farm in the North West in 2014 while still the province's premier.
Testifying on Wednesday, Tebogo Mokaedi said he was contacted by a person named Khoroba to work on a farm belonging to Modise.
When he arrived on the farm, he met the previous caretaker, Shadrack, who had to leave the job to look after his ill son in Zimbabwe.
Mokaedi said that Shadrack showed him the ropes, explaining where all the animals stayed, where the food and medicine were stored and how to feed the animals.
He testified that when he arrived on the farm, there were two bags of feed, one of which had already been opened.
Mokaedi was also allegedly shown a pit where animals should be dumped if they died, he said.
He further testified that when he arrived on the farm, he found the pigs feeding off the carcasses in the sty.
Mokaedi said he also met two women driving a BMW X6 and that one of the women, who was not identified, had given him R200 to buy food and said she would return later in the week with more groceries for his stay on the farm.
She never returned, according to Mokaedi.
When the two bags of feed were finished, Mokaedi said he contacted Khoroba and requested more food for the animals, who were, at that stage, just living off water.
He did, however, try to take the goats and sheep out of their kraals to graze.
Two weeks later, he got a call from Khoroba that the feed would be delivered.
By then, more than 15 pigs had already died, Mokaedi told the court.
Mokaedi said he could not remember how much feed was delivered, but that the food only lasted a week. By this time, he also had no food left and had not yet been paid.
He called Khoroba again, but did not receive any further help.
After spending around 10 weeks on the farm, he rang Khoroba to let him know that he would be leaving the farm due to hunger. He also said he had tried to contact the woman, who was supposed to bring him groceries and food, but her phone went straight to voicemail.
Mokaedi testified that only one person visited during his time on the farm, who took measurements of the farm and then left. He was otherwise alone on the farm for the duration of his stay.
Who abandoned the animals?
During cross-examination, Modise's advocate, Dali Mpofu, SC, asked Mokaedi if Modise had employed him to work on the farm.
Mokaedi said that while he had not spoken to or met Modise, he was told by Khoroba that he would be working on her farm and that the woman he had met would be paying his salary.
He told the court that he was supposed to earn R30 a day.
Mpofu then accused Mokaedi of being responsible for the animals' demise.
"Mrs Modise is accused of confining or restraining animals on her farm. You have testified that it was you who confined the animals to those places," Mpofu said.
Mokaedi conceded that he kept the animals in their enclosures when he left the farm, but said he called Khoroba to say he was leaving.
"Mrs Modise is also accused of abandoning the animals. But now we know from your story, the person who left the animals to go to Mafikeng was you," Mpofu said.
"Yes, I left the animals because I went home because I was hungry and not receiving any income," Mokaedi retorted.
Mokaedi also testified that he could not remember precisely when he was on the farm or the dates he had contacted Khoroba.
He also said he had not called Khoroba again after he had left the farm.
However, Mpofu put it to him that according to his police statement, taken in 2014, that Mokaedi said he left the farm on 28 June and then called Khoroba on 3 July to ask him about payment.
Mokaedi then made a U-turn, admitting that he had called again to find out when and how he would be paid.
Mpofu also pointed out that Mokaedi told police that there were 850 pigs on the farm, while he testified on Wednesday that there were around 185 pigs that he had counted.
Mokaedi also told police that the woman meant to pay him was called Bokkie, but told the court that he could not remember her name.
"Your evidence is pure fabrication. Nothing can be relied upon. The only thing that the court must accept is that you are the person that left the animals behind," Mpofu said.
During re-examination, AfriForum's private prosecutor, advocate Gerrie Nel asked Mokaedi if he remembered the statement.
Mokaedi conceded that it was his statement, but said it was taken years ago.
The trial is set to continue on Thursday.
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