Port Elizabeth – Four tortoises kept to ward off tsotsis and evil spirits have been found at two houses in Port Elizabeth.
The tortoises were found by the Animal Anti-Cruelty League (AACL) in Motherwell and New Brighton with holes in their shells, possibly for chaining them, and without food and water, Netwerk24 reported.
"The poor tortoises were kept in appalling conditions. The owners claim they keep away evil spirits, tsotsis and other unwanted elements," said the league's Beverley Rademeyer.
The rescue operation came after Suzette Ludeke, an animal lover from the Port Elizabeth suburb of Lorraine, posted a picture of a tortoise on the neighbourhood watch's chat group.
Ludeke and Rademeyer went to the Motherwell house together and found a tortoise behind a wall.
Following up on more information, they visited another house in New Brighton where three more tortoises were found.
"When we got to the New Brighton home, one of the tortoises was chewing on a piece of black bag. There was no food or water for the poor animals," said Ludeke.
One of the tortoises even had three holes in its shell.
"The holes are proof that it had been chained. One of them had a marrow bone in to make sure that it didn't close up again," said Rademeyer.
The tortoises were taken to a vet to check for any diseases. They have since been taken to a place of safety.
According to Rademeyer, they confiscated the tortoises because the owners did not have permits to keep them.
"People tend to forget that the owners of tortoises have to have permits, just like those who keep jackal, snakes and some spiders.
"A permit is needed even if the tortoise is being kept for cultural purposes," said Rademeyer.