SPCA barking up wrong tree

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is an important body whose noble aim is to look after the well-being of animals.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is an important body whose noble aim is to look after the well-being of animals.

Animals are an important natural assets in any country and deserve protection from undue harm.

They also account for a huge chunk of revenue for the country, either as livestock or as wild life that attracts tourists.

So, when former ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni took a spear to an ox for his cleansing ceremony, the SPCA understandably smelt blood and picked up the cudgel.

They started an investigation with the aim of prosecuting if an offence had been committed.

We say that the nice ladies and gentlemen of the SPCA are barking up the wrong tree on this one.

They should mark their territory more carefully in future.

Though we are not fans of Tony, we are fully behind him this time.

Yengeni is a proud Xhosa who takes his traditions and culture seriously.

You can see this by the way he dresses up during the opening of parliament, in Xhosa attire from head to toe.

His pricking, or stabbing, of the beast before it was slaughtered is in line with age-old Xhosa practices, tradition and culture.

Unless we're missing something here, the SPCA is not responsible for determining which traditions and cultures are good or bad in our proudly multicultural society.

Chapter 2, section 31, of the constitution exonerates Yengeni from what the SPCA wrongly perceives as criminal.

We hope the SPCA will in the future do its homework about customs and stop offending people.

The Department of Arts and Culture has hit the bull between the eyes with its assertion that the SPCA should approach cultural rituals with caution and respect.

And, as the Human Rights Commission says, this matter "goes to the heart of how people define themselves and how we construct identity".

The SPCA must take its paws off our customs.

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