Modise farm manager denies threatening NSPCA

30 July 2014 - 09:27
By Sapa

National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise's farm manager has denied threatening two NSPCA inspectors with violence, claiming he saved them from harm at the hands of farmworkers.

Speaking to Sapa by phone on Tuesday, Neo Moepi - who also acts as Modise's farm spokesman - accused the inspectors of saying to him: "'n K****r kan nie 'n plaas beheer nie [A K**** cannot control a farm]."

The alleged remark has been firmly denied by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA).

Earlier on Tuesday, it was reported that two NSPCA inspectors were expected to lay charges against Moepi and a farm manager after they allegedly threatened to kick the inspectors' car and set it alight, and grabbed a cellphone and erased recordings.

The altercation allegedly happened last Friday, when the inspectors visited Modise's farm Modderfontein, near Potchefstroom, to evaluate the animals.

Modise's pigs reportedly began eating each other from hunger earlier this month. The NSPCA had to euthanase 117 of the animals, and confiscate 120 after 80 had died.

Moepi told Sapa he was driving to the farm from Potchefstroom on Friday and was about 10km away when a worker called to tell him there were two NSPCA inspectors on the farm.

"I was told they had jumped the fence and opened the gate, and were harassing everybody. I told [the worker who phoned] 'Leave them, I'm coming'."

When he arrived, "they were taking pictures of the cattle, and they had syringes in their hands".

He told the inspectors to leave, saying they had no right to be there and that he was in charge.

"They wanted to know my name, but I told them that they should leave the property and once they were outside we could engage."

He said they had been speaking in English, but one of the inspectors had switched to Afrikaans.

Moepi claimed the inspectors had used the word " K****r " while speaking to some of the farm workers, which had angered the workers.

Contacted for comment, NSPCA executive director Marcelle Meredith denied Moepi's claim.

"We have black, Indian, and white members of our inspection units. None of them would make a remark like that... They are playing the race card."

She confirmed the NSPCA was pursuing cruelty charges over the treatment of animals on the farm.

Meredith said charges would be laid concerning alleged threats of violence against the inspectors.

"We are definitely laying charges. The matter has been reported to the police," she said.

Moepi said the two inspectors who had visited the farm on Friday had fled their vehicle for fear of the workers attacking them, and left it parked in the middle of the farm entrance. The keys were in the ignition.

He had then driven the car from the entrance gate to the edge of the tar road running past the farm, a distance of a few metres, to get it out of the way.

"I was intervening to stop a possible fight," he said.

While he was doing this, the inspectors had taken photos with a mobile phone, and accused him of trying to steal the car. The police had been called.

Moepi denied grabbing the phone, as reported, and deleting photos or recordings. He claimed the inspectors had deleted whatever was on the phone.

"No, no, they are not telling the truth. We agreed there would be no pictures... they deleted them."

Moepi admitted to being very angry at the time but, given what had previously happened on the farm, said he was aware that "I need to be very cautious how I deal with people".

He had subsequently reported the incident to an advocate who handled the farm's business, and had been advised that if the inspectors went ahead and pressed charges "we should also open a case".

Moepi expressed regret that "we still have whites who are racist".

Modise's office at Parliament declined to comment on the matter.

An official told Sapa it was not a parliamentary issue, and "there is no comment".