Correspondence and reports from the national Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) have cleared up speculation around government’s stance on the export of live animals.
Earlier this month, the NSPCA was granted an urgent interim interdict in the Grahamstown High Court which temporarily restricts live exports of animals by sea. As a result, a shipment of sheep from East London to the Middle East is temporarily prohibited.
Al Mawashi South Africa began exporting chilled meat in January 2019 and undertook live export of sheep on certified livestock carriers approved by DAFF, in October 2019. To date, it has concluded two successful shipments from the Eastern Cape to the Middle East.
The Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) secured Al Mawashi South Africa to establish a live export industry from the Eastern Cape following an outward trade and investment mission to the Middle East in January 2018.
Last week, Al Mawashi appealed the NSPCA’s interim interdict. The company’s legal team sought to discharge or vary the interdict.
The judge reserved judgment and the case resumed today, Tuesday June 30 in the Grahamstown High Court.
“The recent lawfare seeking an outright ban on live export has placed a question mark over South Africa’s supply chain reliability. It has also pushed South Africa Middle East trade relations onto a knife edge. After all, we are dealing with food security of several nations,” said Ilyaas Ally, managing director of Al Mawashi South Africa.
“Persian Gulf countries such as Oman, Kuwait and the UAE face imminent food supply chain disruptions and crises. This is because our company and Middle Eastern countries were in no way forewarned about changes that would prohibit us from exporting animals during specific seasons of the year,” Ally said.
“South African live export is legal, and our company follows and exceeds international animal health and welfare standards for transportation of animals by sea.
“It is important to note that South Africa is a signatory to the World Organisation Animal Health (OIE) standards. DAFF has inspected our vessels, and DALRRD has issued permits and health certificates. If we were in contravention of OIE animal welfare standards, we would not have received the clearance to conduct two previous shipments.”
DALRRD: No opposition to live export
In May, the NSPCA announced that the South African government had banned live export during Northern Hemisphere Summer months.
However, in correspondence from DALRRD in June to DAFF, the department stated: “at this moment, there is no written policy or legislation to oppose impending export other than animal welfare concerns.”
DRDAR: World class facilities, humane treatment of animals
In January and February this year, the Eastern Cape’s MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) together with ECDC and DEDEAT visited the Middle East to inspect Al Mawashi’s facilties.
A report compiled by DRDAR stated: “Al Mawashi has state-of-the art livestock handling facilities and their animal-welfare practices are ethical.”
In 2020, DAFF inspected the Al Messilah livestock carrier in Al Sharajah, UAE. Its report states that the inspection team found the vessel to be fit to load and transport domesticated livestock.