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Slap on the wrist for vet who won't help SPCA in Thandi Modise farm case

A veterinary surgeon who refused to testify against politician Thandi Modise after initially examining animals on her “farm of horror” has been sanctioned.

It was the first time in the 59-year history of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) that a veterinarian had undertaken work for the society and then refused to provide a report‚ it said in a statement.

Dr Sameer Abbas‚ a veterinary surgeon practicing in Potchefstroom‚ appeared before an independent disciplinary committee at the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) earlier this month on a complaint lodged by the NSPCA against him for unprofessional conduct in terms of the SAVC rules.

This followed his refusal to hand over evidence and reports relating to the criminal charges laid against Modise‚ who is chair of the National Council of Provinces‚ after the SPCA found starving animals on her farm in Modderfontein‚ outside Potchefstroom in the North West. Over 50 dead pigs were discovered and the remaining 85 pigs were cannibalising on the rotten carcasses of other pigs.

At the time‚ the only worker on Modise’s farm‚ Tebogo “Nino” Moekaedi‚ and his family‚ had been there for two months without pay and with no animal feed. They‚ too‚ were going hungry and Moekaedi said he was owed his wages.

 “Dr Abbas took his own photographs at the farm after the National Council of SPCAs had gained entrance under a court order. He took tissue samples of the animals for analysis which the NSPCA expected would form the basis of his report for inclusion in the docket relating to the criminal charges laid against Thandi Modise. The veterinarian also performed post-mortem examinations on the carcass of a sheep that had died on the Modise farm‚” the NSPCA said.

“The National Council of SPCAs was advised in an e-mail from Dr Abbas dated 22 July 2015 that he no longer wished to have any involvement in the matter. ‘Please do not make any further contact or send any further correspondence.’ The NSPCA was taken aback by this declaration.”

The independent disciplinary committee found Dr Abbas guilty on two charges of contravening the SAVC Rules. Dr Abbas’ license to practice was suspended for six months‚ the suspension itself being suspended for two years.

The NSPCA said the case against Modise under the Animals Protection Act was still being investigated by police. “According to the SAPS … they are awaiting Ms Modise’s affidavit.”

The NSPCA previously confirmed that some of the rescued animals had been diagnosed with highly contagious diseases‚ coccidiosis and septicaemia‚ which can be transferred to humans.

The organisation has been conducting monthly inspections at the farm to ensure the welfare of the remaining cows. Late last year‚ the NSPCA said conditions had improved.

Modise‚ who bought the farm with a R4.8-million loan from the Land Bank in 2011‚ has blamed her previous farm manager and an employee for leaving the farm unattended for weeks.

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