Thandi Modise, Speaker in parliament, today appeared in the dock in the Potchefstroom Regional Court for the second consecutive day with regards to her hearing on charges of animal abuse after more than 200 animals had to be euthanised on her farm in 2014 due to malnutrition. Adv. Gerrie Nel, Head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, is privately prosecuting Modise on behalf of the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA). The case was today postponed until 13, 14 and 15 April 2021.
The prosecution today called three witnesses: Dustin Wetdewich (Editor of the Potchefstroom Herald), Dr Sameer Abbas (the veterinarian who was called out to the site) and Pieter Ferreira van Aswegen (a fodder supplier that supplied fodder to the farm Modderfontein in 2014).
The legal team of the accused, led by Adv. Dali Mpofu, however argued that they weren’t aware that the Private Prosecution Unit was today planning on calling Dr Abbas as an expert witness and as a result don’t have their own expert in court to support Modise’s legal team. This despite the fact that Adv. Nel yesterday indicated in court that he was planning on calling a veterinarian and also disclosed Dr Abbas’s expert accounts to the accused’s legal team. Adv. Mpofu could also not substantiate his initial claim – that in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act the Private Prosecution Unit had to give the opposition 14 days’ notice that they want to call an expert witness. Dr Abbas could subsequently not continue with his testimony today seeing as the accused’s legal team wasn’t ready to cross-examine him. He will be called back to the witness stand in April.
According to Andrew Leask, Head Investigator at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, the day in court was used for speeches and the accused’s legal team failed to disclose a clear defence. “The charges against Ms. Modise deals with animal abuse and her legal team didn’t give any explanation for it. The prosecution will however continue to concentrate on the relevant merits of the case.”
The fodder supplier Van Aswegen testified that he already in November 2013 noticed that the pigs didn’t have enough fodder and advised the farm worker to fill up the animals’ feed trough. According to Van Aswegen it would have improved the condition of the animals with regards to malnutrition, especially when taking into account that they were already starting to go hungry and thus driven to cannibalism.