Johannesburg - The four-and-a-half month long platinum sector strike has led to many people around Rustenburg abandoning their pets, the SPCA said on Tuesday.

“Where there is no income, people are getting food in the shelters but the animals are starving,” Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) inspector Levy Ramalete said.

“People need food, but what about those who cannot speak for themselves?”

The problem was exacerbated by the fact that many people did not have their pets sterilised.

“They keep giving birth, so there is the problem of food, shelter. I think if we can sterilise animals, we are going to win.”

Ramalete said the SPCA recently saw a dramatic increase in the number of stray animals in Rustenburg and Marikana.

“People throw puppies in the veld so that they must die there.”

The vastness of the area complicated the SPCA's mission of rescuing these animals.

Ramalete urged the public to contact the SPCA if they could no longer afford to feed their pets.

National Council of SPCAs spokeswoman Christine Kuch said people should not be ashamed or afraid to hand their animals to the SPCA if they could no longer look after them.

“It's the right, noble thing to do, it is the responsible action to take.”

She encouraged the public to be honest about their reasons for letting go of their pets if they handed them in, as this would help re-home them.

Kuch said that the fee for adopting an animal from the SPCA covered the services of sterilisation, de-worming and vaccination.

This was preferable to getting a free pet that had not benefited from these treatments.

She appealed to pet owners to have their pets sterilised to prevent pregnancy.

“Sterilisation is the right thing to do, it diminishes suffering in the long term.”

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have been on strike at Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum, and Lonmin in the platinum belt since January 23 for a basic monthly salary of R12,500.

They have so far rejected the companies' offer that would bring their cash remuneration to R12,500 by July 2017.

So far, employees have forfeited wages of around R9.7bn according to a website set up by the companies,, while the industry has lost R21.8 billion in earnings. - Sapa