First Published By The Star

A case of cruelty to animals has allegedly been opened against the Lesotho military after more than 60 of its horses were found in distress and hungry and 19 had to be put down.

Bloemfontein’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) inspector Tebogo Maswanganye told The Star last on Tuesday that the animals were found at a plot in Hobhouse, 150km outside Bloemfontein, where they showed severe signs of being neglected.

A passer-by had made the discovery on June 21 and informed the SPCA, which went there to investigate immediately.

“Six of them had already died from hunger and another three were weak and their ribs were almost coming out of their skins. We established that the animals belonged to the Lesotho army and instructed the commander to give them food.

“When we came back on the 24th (three days later) we discovered that they did not comply and we were left with no choice but to get a warrant to confiscate the animals and 19 had to be put down because they could not even walk,” said Maswanganye.

About 68 of the animals were now at the SPCA facilities.

He said the SPCA had opened a case of animal cruelty against the army at the Hobhouse police station, however, an officer on duty could not confirm this last night.

The Star could not reach Lesotho consul in South Africa, for comment.

Bloemfontein senior inspector Reinet Meyer described the conditions at the plot where the animals were kept as horrendous.

“There was absolutely no food or grass to eat. The horses were starving. They just stood there and there was absolutely no emotion in them.

“The horses were so depressing. They just stayed in one place in the field and did not move at all.”

The SPCA said only one officer from the Lesotho army was on duty on the farm to look after the animals and there was no veterinarian to treat those that were ill.

“Some of the horses are completely blind and struggle to see. A number of the horses also have cancer crops on them and are in extremely poor condition,” Meyer said.

“Many of the horses’ hooves are severely damaged and they really struggle to walk. Some of them also showed signs of lameness.

“A number also have skin conditions and their fur is in extremely poor condition,” Meyer said. NW

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