Modderfontein, North West - All that was left of the bodies piled high in the pit was skin and bones. By the way their flesh had decomposed, Andries Venter could tell they had been lying there for more than a month.
“The bodies were dumped on top of each other,” says Venter, the farm animal protection unit manager at the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA), of the scene he encountered last week at the “Farm of Horrors”, owned by NCOP chairwoman Thandi Modise. “It wasn’t just one or two pigs. There were many of them.”
It is believed that over 100 pigs, sheep, chickens and goats were left without food and water for a week or two, but Venter says the condition of the carcasses together, with the information that there were only two people looking after the animals over a long period, “gives us the impression the overall neglect was definitely longer than a month”.
Venter described the investigation as “hellish”, particularly being forced to put down more than 100 of the ailing animals. “This issue has got to me, it has affected me. It’s difficult to wrap your head around what happened. My gut tells me it was a case of out of sight, out of mind.”
He is building a docket to be submitted to the police, with the criminal charges Modise could face including starvation, general neglect of animals, failure to render veterinary treatment, confining animals in cruel conditions, and abandonment.
Her spokesman, Neo Moepi, claims that she was “attached to the animals” and said this week she was working with the NSPCA.
But Venter claims: “We have not got the information we requested from them. There is a chance they will get the animals back but there are certain things we have asked from them that they have not supplied like who was responsible for the farm, what is their plan of action and how will they prevent this in future.”
The NSPCA, he said, had spent a fortune on veterinary costs and feeding the surviving animals.
“We need them to come to the party and own up. They have given the press more information than they have given us … Once we get into negotiations and they want their animals back, we will have to slap them with a bill.”
It has put down a few of the survivors.
“The condition of the survivors is not good. Our vets are trying their best to keep them alive. They have been on a special diet since we removed them. I am building the docket and waiting for the vet report, after which we will formally lay the docket to the police.”
Moepi could not be reached last night.
MANAGER LIVES HIGH ON THE HOG AS ANIMALS DIE
In the run-up to the period in which the pigs and other animals were left to die and cannibalise each other on National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise’s farm, the alleged farm manager was flying high on a local government jaunt
to the US.
The Saturday Star has established that Abdul Mogale, an Ekurhuleni councillor and ANC spokesman on finance in the council, travelled to Minneapolis in the US to attend a week-long government finance officers conference at about the same time that neighbours alleged starving pigs were cannibalising each other.
Mogale was yesterday named in several newspaper reports as the farm manager and alleged ex-lover of Modise. The neighbours to the farm said he had visited it five or six times in three years – but appeared to be in charge.
Earlier in the week, Modise’s spokesman Neo Moepi told journalists that the problems on the farm occurred when the farm manager asked to take leave two weeks ago to attend to a family matter and failed to inform Modise that he had not returned to the farm.
The Mail & Guardian reported that Mogale was not the full-time resident manager of the 488ha farm in Modderfontein, North West, that Modise bought with a R4.9 milllion Land Bank loan in 2011, but appeared to be “in charge”.
Several sources in the Ekurhuleni council told the Saturday Star yesterday that Mogale travelled to Minneapolis last month with a team
of other officials to the conference that serves to evaluate best international finance
practices in local government.
“While those animals were starving he was enjoying world-class hotels and meals
as part of his portfolio work here in Ekurhuleni,” said
an official who didn’t want to be named.
“If you look at the dates that the animals are said to have been neglected they correspond with the times he went
to the US.”
Several attempts to reach Mogale on various cellphones, home telephones and SMSes were unsuccessful.
Through several searches for his contacts, the Saturday Star was able to establish
that Mogale is a director
of a company ironically
named Dikolobe Networks cc. Dikolobe is a Sotho word
The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) went to the farm last weekend after being tipped off that
animals were dying of thirst and hunger.
This week Moepi denied to several newspapers reports that Mogale was the manager of Modise’s farm.
But allegations of long-time neglect of the animals were also made to North West DA leader Chris Hattingh, who told the Saturday Star this week that workers on the adjacent plot had told him that “food supply and delivery” to Modise’s farm had dwindled since November last year.
Hattingh also said a criminal investigation was needed to establish how long the neglect had been going on. -Thabiso Thakali