Cape Town – National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise’s acquittal on animal neglect and cruelty charges has been hailed as a ’’victory against white supremacists who don’t want black people to venture into farming’’.
This was stated on Friday by the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) in North West.
The Potchefstroom Magistrate’s Court on Friday found Modise not guilty after her lawyer, advocate Dali Mpofu, applied for her to be discharged on all six charges. The magistrate found there was not sufficient evidence to prosecute Modise and that she could not held responsible.
The case stems from the NSPCA obtaining a warrant in 2014 to inspect the animals on a farm in Modderfontein in the district of Tlokwe belonging to Modise. A tip-off indicated that the animals on the property had been abandoned.
A statement by the NSPCA explained that Modise’s farm was littered with the carcasses of over 50 pigs and other dead animals such as geese, ducks, sheep and goats. The NSPCA had been forced to euthanise more than 224 animals at the farm when it visited there in July 2014.
Head of AfriForum’s private prosecution unit, advocate Gerrie Nel, had been pursuing the private prosecution case on behalf of the NSPCA.
“It would have been double jeopardy had Modise been found guilty for the harrowing incident she has struggled to put behind her mind as a business venture from which she had drawn painful lessons based on charges that were seemingly motivated by racism,” said Sanco provincial chairperson Paul Sebegoe in a statement.
Sebegoe emphasised that the civic organisation had always believed in her innocence.
Sanco was convinced that ’’the parties that were behind the racist political agenda to denigrate Modise, ’had deliberately ignored and were less interested in the sadness that she had expressed regarding the unfortunate abandonment of her livestock, including the trauma that they had suffered as well as the huge financial loss she had also experienced’’.
He stressed that, in Sanco’s view, ’’Modise represents a section of the population that her detractors felt had to be relentlessly pursued, vilified and ultimately routed out of sectors such as farming that they regard as a preserve of white supremacists’’.
“Modise, whom organisations like AfriForum are desperately trying to besmirch her name and project as uncompassionate, is among leaders who could play a crucial role in the ’New Dawn’ as the country reclaims unity, nation-building, social cohesion and reconciliation. Renewed character assassination attempts by myopic reactionary forces will only serve to undermine the national objective,” Sebegoe said.
He said that land reform, including land expropriation without compensation, presents opportunities for greater collaboration and partnerships instead of past prejudices that South Africans must work together to overcome.
Sebegoe added that allegations that former DA leader in the province Chris Hattingh and some prominent ANC provincial leaders were on Modise’s farm without her knowledge and permission a week before her farm manager and employees had abandoned it, ’’pointed to a possible collusion and a well-orchestrated plan by her detractors to publicly embarrass as well as cripple her financially and politically’’.