Several starving horses were found at SA army base in Potchefstroom. Photo: Supplied by NSPCA.
CAPE TOWN - South African National Defence Force (SANDF) chief Solly Shoke has ordered the relocation of 80 of its horses which were found starving by animal welfare inspectors at an army unit in Potchefstroom, a statement said on Monday night.

The SANDF confirmed in its statement that 25 of its horses were euthanased at South African Army Special Infantry Capability (SAASIC) unit last month "due to compromised health" after an inspection by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA).

The Military Veterinary Institute (MVI) "has been roped in" to help the SANDF assess the conditions the animals are kept in.

"In our quest to finally settle our horses in a large enough environment, the Chief of the SANDF, Gen Solly Shoke has directed that 80 of our horses be relocated to a better facility in Rooiwal, North of Pretoria to ensure that all animals under the care of the SANDF are properly looked after," the statement said.

"Only forty horses will be left at SAASIC in Potchefstroom with the understanding that the facility will be adequate to cater for all these animals’ needs. With the help of the MVI, we have also enlisted extra personnel and veterinary physicians to help manage the animals and ensure that the highest standard of animal breeding behaviour is maintained by the SANDF."

In a statement earlier on Monday, the NSPCA said it formally signed a memorandum of understanding with the SANDF in 2016 regarding the care of animals, but that the army had "continually reneged on the agreement".

"Their failure to secure suitably qualified personnel or adequate facilities, combined with a non-empathetic infrastructure that has repeatedly failed the animals in their care, has resulted in a complete breakdown in the welfare conditions afforded to the horses," the NSPCA said.

"The main herd had no food, the horses had no other option but to eat soil and their own faeces. Food was only provided to the horses after the NSPCA forced the SAASIC unit into taking emergency action to secure adequate feed for the animals due to process restrictions."

African News Agency/ANA