The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) yesterday brushed off legal action taken against leader Julius Malema for slaughtering a cow, saying it was “busy with elections”.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) laid criminal charges against Malema following a video showing the EFF commander-in-chief intending to slaughter an animal on a farm during the party’s 10th anniversary in July in Magaliesburg.
The EFF said it would deal “with whatever complaints from the NSPCA as they arise”. “As of now, our complete attention is on establishing our elections machinery ahead of 2024 towards total victory,” said the party’s communications department.
Describing the Animals Protection Act as “crucial legislation that aims to protect all animals from unnecessary pain, suffering, and cruelty”, NSPCA spokesperson Jacques Peacock, said: “After a thorough investigation into the contraventions depicted in the video, the NSPCA has laid criminal charges against Malema in accordance with the Act.”
‘Manifestation of Western imperialism’
But experts were divided about the cultural slaughtering of animals and the law. Slamming the NSPCA action, independent political analyst Sandile Swana said the slaughtering of animals by Jews, Muslims and Africans was “similar, yet the NSPCA challenges Africans on African soil on exercising their culture – with no credible scientific evidence”.
“This is another manifestation of Western imperialism, with the foundations of their arguments laying in London and Washington,” Swana said.
“However, many Western intellectuals now promote organic food and are going back to nature. On our farms we are slaughtering – whether you are black or white.
“The action by SPCA is insulting and highly provocative, intended to dehumanise Africans completely.
“This case is unlikely to change anything in law – it’s just naked racism,” said Swana.
Malema followed cultural custom?
University of Pretoria law professor Koos Malan said South Africa had “ample room for cultural customs, also relating to animals and their slaughtering”.
“One must also consider that there are changes in this regard. All communities – African and European – were previously involved in cruelty towards animals,” Malan said.
“But much of that has changed, especially in dealing with animals through cultural customs – although there is room for slaughtering as part of the tradition.
“That must be conducted within boundaries – where cruelty towards animals comes in. You must strike a balance between the two.
“Following the charge laid against Malema, it will have to be established whether the conduct was in step with cultural custom,” Malan said.
“If his actions were in line with custom, then that may constitute a defence. But if it appears that more cruelty was administered to the animal than what the custom allows for, there cannot be any defence.”
Political lecturer Roland Henwood said: “This will always be difficult and must be approached with sensitivity – within the framework of basic legal provisions.
“The challenge here is to deal with an activist approach, versus the requirement for rationality in the legal context.
“The challenge for the EFF may not be this specific issue, but rather the trend of legal challenges and transgressions, linked to its leadership – which have always responded by politicising, rejecting and questioning the legality of the process. This has become a trademark of EFF actions.
“More important for me is the risk of undermining the rule of law and legitimate legal provisions,” Henwood said.