Goats stand outside a building at former president Jacob Zuma’s homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal. File picture: Sandile Makhoba/ANA
Durban - Former president Jacob Zuma’s family in Nkandla have slammed a statement by the National Council of SPCAs about complaints of animals being abandoned, saying it was “clutching at straws”.

“It’s an act of desperation from detractors to do everything at all costs to paint our father (as) bad in the eyes of the public,” said Edward Zuma, the eldest son.

He said he had been made aware of NSPCA statement, but he refuted it.

The animal anti-cruelty organisation issued a statement on Thursday saying it had received a complaint about animals being abandoned at the former president’s homestead in Nkandla.

Read: Zuma's Nkandla homestead probed for animal neglect

NSPCA executive director Marcelle Meredith said when the complaint came in, the complainant was asked to put it in writing, which was done. She said according to the complainant, the animals affected were cattle, sheep and goats.

She said the complaint was received on February 14, ironically the same day Zuma resigned as state president.

“We received the complaint on February 14 and asked that it be made in writing to avoid a wild goose chase. This was done the following day and our inspectors headed to Nkandla on February 16,” she said.

Meredith said the complainant alleged that there were only security personnel at the premises and that no one was taking charge and caring for the animals.

“An NSPCA inspector attended to the complaint and was denied entry by security personnel on duty. He then approached the court and was granted a warrant to enter the property and inspect the animals, but was still denied entry due to its being a national key point,” Meredith noted.

She said the inspector then approached the relevant officials and was finally granted entry to inspect the conditions under which the animals were being kept, but found that no animals had been abandoned.

Meredith said there were welfare concerns noted at the time of the inspection and a warning was issued.

“The warning was subsequently complied with and the NSPCA will continue to monitor the animals at the homestead,” she said.

However, an angry Edward said the family no longer keep animals at the home.

“We only keep, overnight, those animals that will be slaughtered for ceremonies, and the last time that happened was in November,” said Edward.

“I really do not know what they want from us. Do they now want to be the shepherd of our livestock?

“We will not entertain them because they are defeated and are now clutching at straws,” he said.

Meredith pointed out that the NSPCA would always follow through and investigate when a complaint was made, regardless of who the owner was or their animal’s location.

“We will continue to be the protectors of the voiceless no matter what challenges are thrown at us.”

The Mercury