AfriForum’s bid to prosecute National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise on animal cruelty charges moved a step closer on Friday when a witness agreed to provide a statement in the case.
The organisation’s private prosecution unit had summoned Bejani Chauke and Capt Tebogo Mokolobate to appear in the Potchefstroom Magistrate’s Court.
AfriForum wanted the two to provide the prosecution team with essential and applicable information in the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (NSPCA’s) case against Modise.
AfriForum’s private prosecution unit was forced to take this drastic step of summoning the men after their refusal to provide statements to the unit.
Section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act is aimed at compelling people with information about an alleged crime, but who are unwilling to share it with investigators, to provide the information.
Chauke, who was Modise’s adviser and is now President Cyril Ramaphosa’s adviser, did not attend the court proceedings.
His legal representatives explained that he could not testify in court on Friday for medical reasons.
AfriForum did not accept the apology but instead applied for a warrant for his arrest. The warrant will stand over until April 29, when the matter continues in court.
Mokolobate did appear in court and agreed to make a statement at AfriForum’s private prosecution unit office next Wednesday.
“AfriForum’s private prosecution unit welcomes this turn in the case, which means that we are now yet another step closer to getting Modise in court,” said private prosecution unit investigator Elias Maangwale.
Maangwale said it remained unique in South African legal history that witnesses were compelled in terms of Section 205 to make statements.
“The private prosecution unit has a very strong case against Modise, and it is one of our main aims to ensure that no person escapes prosecution simply because they are being protected through political alliances,” said Maangwale.
The NSPCA decided to privately prosecute in 2017 after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decided not to prosecute Modise on animal cruelty charges.
In July 2014‚ the NSPCA obtained a warrant to inspect animals on a farm in the North West province belonging to Modise. This was after receiving a tip-off that animals on the property had been abandoned.
Modise’s farm was littered with the carcasses of more than 50 pigs and other dead animals‚ such as geese‚ ducks‚ sheep and goats.
More than 100 pigs‚ sheep‚ chickens and goats were found without food and water.
“The surviving animals, including swine, sheep, chickens and goats, were all left in a desperate state without food and water. The SPCA had to put down 162 animals as a result of their dire circumstances,” said NSPCA farm animal protection unit manager Grace de Lange.