'Warrant of arrest issued for speaker Thandi Modise' in animal cruelty case
National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise failed to appear in the Potchefstroom Regional Court on Tuesday to face charges of animal abuse, AfriForum has claimed.
AfriForum's private prosecution unit, which is prosecuting Modise on behalf of the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA), said on Tuesday that a warrant for her arrest was issued on Tuesday pending her appearance in court in a week's time.
The dates of March 24-26 were provisionally set for the trial when Modise appeared in court in October last year.
AfriForum said Modise's legal representative said the speaker was involved in dealing with the country's coronavirus crisis and the impending national lockdown. It is not immediately clear how the matter will be affected by the lockdown.
Efforts to reach Modise on her cellphone were not successful and a text message sent to her lawyer went unanswered.
Modise's case dates back to the discovery of the carcasses of more than 50 pigs and other animals on her farm at Modderfontein, North West, in 2014.
AfriForum took up the private prosecution of Modise in 2017 after the National Prosecuting Authority decided not to prosecute Modise on animal cruelty charges.
AfriForum said Modise's legal representative argued on Tuesday that she was asked by President Cyril Ramaphosa to help manage the Covid-19 pandemic.
AfriForum said the magistrate wanted reasons why Modise could not delegate her duties or communicate to the president that she had to appear in court to face the charges.
"Modise will have to explain on March 31 why she had been absent, after which the prosecution can hopefully commence. It is unacceptable for Modise not to appear in court today, and simply arguing that the reason for her absence is her office," said the head investigator at AfriForum's private prosecution unit, Andrew Leask.