Why ‘stinking’ ship was allowed to dock

The arrival of the controversial livestock carrier vessel, Al Kuwait, caused a stir in the city centre after residents noticed a foul smell over the CBD. Picture: Armand Hough/Independent Newspapers

The arrival of the controversial livestock carrier vessel, Al Kuwait, caused a stir in the city centre after residents noticed a foul smell over the CBD. Picture: Armand Hough/Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 21, 2024


Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has stuck by its decision to allow the controversial Al Kuwait vessel to dock in the Port of Cape Town, saying this was based on a thorough assessment.

This follows public concern and questions over approvals and the protocols for such an action.

Livestock carrier Al Kuwait, now dubbed the “death ship,” arrived at the dock on Sunday night with 19 000 cattle on board, from Rio Grande, Brazil, destined for Iraq.

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) found “awful conditions”.

Some of the cattle were reportedly found dead while others apparently suffered severe injuries and had to be put down.

A potent stench covered the city on Monday, but subsided on Tuesday.

This also led to some animal rights organisations and activists protesting against live animal export.

Attempts to reach Al Mawashi, which owns Al Kuwait, were again unsuccessful on Tuesday.

Noting the concerns, TNPA said the decision to allow the vessel to dock was based on a thorough assessment of various factors and in consultation with the State veterinarian, Port Health and the Maritime Security Coordination Centre.

“The vessel docked in the Port of Cape Town for animal feed, vessel stores, bunkers and to afford the relevant parties the opportunity to conduct medical assessments on the animals on board as well as administer the necessary medical care. The safety and well-being of the animals on board was of paramount importance in making the decision and it was on these grounds that TNPA permitted the vessel to berth at the Port of Cape Town. Port Health cleared the vessel and in so doing confirmed that all potential health issues would be managed and controlled,” said port manager Lorraine Mabindisa.

She said they collaborated closely with the vessel agent, the different State entities and the NSPCA to monitor the well-being of the animals and manage the risk associated with the docked vessel.

The Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO) said the matter was of foreign origin and therefore did not take place under the banner of South African exports.

The organisation said it should be noted that Al Mawashi was an international company and that the current situation had nothing to do with Al Mawashi South Africa, which arranges and coordinates South African exports.

“We are concerned about the possible influence the situation may have on the biosecurity of South Africa with people moving on and off the ship and the possibility of dead animals being offloaded. As a country that is already struggling to regain its animal health status from the World Organisation for Animal Health, we cannot afford more breaches of our biosecurity. We are of the opinion that someone should have known and given approval of and for the ship to dock in Cape Town. The fodder that was loaded should also have been arranged in advance. We would like to know how the approvals worked and what the protocols for such an action look like and will try to find out how it happened,” the organisation said.

The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) board made up of Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Braham Kumari faiths, expressed horror at the pictures showing the conditions of the cattle.

FOUR PAWS director in South Africa, Fiona Miles, noted that several countries including New Zealand and the UK banned or were planning to ban the practice.

“There is insufficient regulation in place and raising animals in the country simply to be transported to be killed in another country means that South Africa bears the harmful impacts associated with animal agriculture while the importing country does not,” Daniels said.

Cape Times