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Animal Protection

… ask the animals, and they will teach you.1

… Nothing can be more obvious than that all animals were created solely and exclusively for the use of man.2

The Animals Protection Act 19623 addresses directly the prevention of cruelty to animals. Its provisions are quite topical, given the rising prevalence of, for example, dog fighting, on the one hand, and the closure of animal havens – including the SPCA – due to lack of funding on the other hand. It relates to all domestic and farm animals, and wild animals in captivity. The Act falls under the authority of the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services.

A. Cruelty4

  1. It is an offence to:
    • ill-treat, neglect, infuriate, torture, maim or cruelly beat, kick, goad or terrify any animal;5
    • unnecessarily starve, underfeed or deny water or food to any animal;6
    • keep an animal in a dirty or parasitic condition, or allow it to become infested with external parasites;7
    • fail to render or procure veterinary or other medical treatment or attention for any animal in need of such treatment or attention, whether through disease, injury, delivery of young or any other cause;8
    • fail to destroy or cause to be destroyed any animal which is so seriously injured or diseased, or in such a physical condition, that to prolong its life would be cruel and would cause such animal unnecessary suffering;9
    • save for the purpose of training hounds maintained by a duly established and registered vermin club in the destruction of vermin, liberate any animal in such manner or place as to expose it to immediate attack, or danger of attack, by other animals or by wild animals;10
    • liberate any bird in such manner as to expose it to immediate attack, or danger of attack, by animals, wild animals or wild birds;11
    • being the owner of any animal, abandon it, whether permanently or not, in circumstances likely to cause that animal unnecessary suffering;12
    • cause, procure or assist in the commission or omission of any of the aforesaid acts or, being the owner of any animal, permits the commission or omission of any such act;13 or
    • do or omit to do any act (or cause or procure the commission or omission of any act) which causes unnecessary suffering to any animal;14
    • kill an animal in contravention of a prohibition to kill an animal for its skin, meat or other part for commercial purposes.15

B. Poisoning and trapping

  1. It is an offence to:
    • lay, or expose, any poison or any poisoned fluid or edible matter or infectious agent except for the destruction of vermin or marauding domestic animals, and even then without taking reasonable precautions to prevent injury or disease being caused to animals;16 or
    • lay any trap or other device for the purpose of capturing or destroying any animal, wild animal or wild bird if it is not necessary for the protection of property or for the prevention of the spread of disease; or17
    • fail to inspect and clear any such trap or other device at least once each day;18
    • except under the authority of a permit issued by the magistrate of the district concerned, sell any trap or other device intended for the capture of any animal, including any wild animal (not being a rodent) or wild bird, to any person who is not a bona fide farmer;19 or
    • without reasonable cause administer to any animal any poisonous or injurious drug or substance.20

C. Driving and tethering

  1. It is an offence to:
    • overload, overdrive or override any animal;21
    • chain or secure any animal unnecessarily, or under such conditions, or in such a manner or position as to cause that animal unnecessary suffering; or22
    • keep an animal in any place which affords inadequate space, ventilation, light, protection or shelter from heat, cold, weather, dust, exhaust gases or noxious fumes;23 24
    • use on, or attach to, any animal any equipment, appliance or vehicle which causes or will cause injury to such animal or which is loaded, used or attached in such a manner as will cause such animal to be injured or to become diseased or to suffer unnecessarily; or25
    • drive or use any animal which is so diseased or so injured or in such a physical condition that it is unfit to be driven or to do any work; or26
    • secure or restrain any animal:
      • for such a period of time as to cause unnecessary suffering;27 or
      • without making adequate provision for suitable food, potable water and rest for such animal in circumstances where it is necessary.28

D. Fighting

  1. It is an offence to bait or provoke any animal, or incite any animal to attack another animal.29

  2. Any person who:

    • possesses, keeps, imports, buys, sells, trains, breeds or has under his control an animal for the purpose of fighting any other animal;30
    • baits, or provokes or incites any animal to attack another animal or to proceed with the fighting of another animal;31
    • for financial gain, or as a form of amusement, promotes animal fights;32
    • allows any of the abovementioned acts to take place on any premises in his possession or under his control;33
    • owns, uses or controls any premises or place for the purpose (or partly for the purpose) of presenting animal fights;34
    • acts or assists in the management of any such premises or place;35
    • receives any consideration for the admission of any person to any such premises or place; 36 or
    • is present as a spectator at any premises or place where any of the acts referred to above is taking place, or where preparations are being made for such acts,37

    shall be guilty of an offence.

E. Court proceedings and orders38

  1. Whenever a person is convicted of an offence in terms of this Act in respect of any animal, the court convicting him may declare the person convicted to be unfit to own, or be in charge of any animal, or of any animal of a specified kind, for a specified period. Any person who contravenes such a declaration shall be guilty of an offence.39

  2. A court trying any person for an alleged offence under this Act may summon the owner of any animal in respect of which such offence is alleged to have been committed to produce that animal at a time and place stated in the summons for inspection by the court. Any person who fails to comply with such a summons shall be guilty of an offence.40

  3. A magistrate may authorise SPCA officers to enter any premises where any animal is kept, for the purpose of examining the conditions under which it is so kept, to arrest any person suspected of having committed an offence, and to seize any animal or thing in the possession or custody of that person. It is an offence to:41

    • obstruct, hinder or resist such an officer, in the exercise of the powers conferred upon him;42
    • conceal any animal or thing with intent to defeat the exercise of such powers;43
    • fail to give your name and address to such officer.44
  1. The Old Testament – Job Ch 12 v 7 (NIV). 

  2. Thomas Love Peacock (1785–1866) an English satirical novelist and poet, writing in Headlong Hall, published in 1816. The book revolves around an assembled group of eccentrics each with a monomaniacal obsession. The (no-doubt satirical) comment, by the Reverend Doctor Gaster, was in the context of a debate concerning man’s omnivorous nature. It is suggested that an attempt be made to read this book only if one suffers from acute insomnia. 

  3. As amended; the latest amendment was effected by Act 33 of 1997. 

  4. Section 8. 

  5. Section 2(1)(a). 

  6. Section 2(1)(c). 

  7. Section 2(1)(e). 

  8. Section 2(1)(e). 

  9. Section 2(1)(e). 

  10. Section 2(1)(g). 

  11. Section 2(1)(h). 

  12. Section 2(1)(p). 

  13. Section 2(1)(q). 

  14. Section 2(1)(r). 

  15. Section 2(1)(s). 

  16. Section 2(1)(d). 

  17. Section 2(1)(j). 

  18. Section 2(1)(k). 

  19. Section 2(1)(l). 

  20. Section 2(1)(m). 

  21. Section 2(1)(a) and 2(1)(m). 

  22. Section 2(1)(b) and section 2(1)(m)(ii). 

  23. Section 2(1)(f). 

  24. Section 2(1)(b) and section 2(1)(m)(iii). 

  25. Section 2(1)(f). 

  26. Section 2(1)(i). 

  27. Section 2(1)(m)(i). 

  28. Section 2(1)(m)(iii). 

  29. Section 2A(1)(b) and section 2(1)(g). 

  30. Section 2A(1)(a). 

  31. Section 2A(1)(b). 

  32. Section 2A(1)(c). 

  33. Section 2A(1)(d). 

  34. Section 2A(1)(e). 

  35. Section 2A(1)(e). 

  36. Section 2A(1)(e). 

  37. Section 2A(1)(f). 

  38. Just a note of caution to overeager animal lovers. If, at the trial of any person on a charge of an offence under this Act, the court is satisfied that any person (or body) has without reasonable cause and vexatiously lodged or caused to be lodged the complaint which led to such trial, it may award costs (including attorney and client costs) against such person or body. 

  39. Section 3(2). 

  40. Section 7(2). 

  41. Section 8(4). 

  42. Section 8(4). 

  43. Section 8(4). 

  44. Section 8(4).