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Tue Sep 27 00:27:25 SAST 2016

NSPCA says court protects its code of confidentiality

TMG Digital | 19 February, 2016 12:21
The NSPCA said Thursday’s judgement confirmed that “the SPCA movement treat all complaints as confidential as per our own Code of Ethics”. File photo
Image by: Esa Alexander. 30/08/2007. © Sunday Times

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) on Friday hailed as “a victory for issues of principle and integrity” a high court rejection of an appeal of a judgment which protected whistleblowers.

“Those who come forward must be protected in the interest of justice and being able to give information – evidence even – without fear of victimisation‚ intimidation or other repercussions‚” the NSPCA said in a statement.

This came after a judgement handed down in the high court in Pretoria on Thursday‚ which the animal welfare organisation quoted: “Disclosure of complaints made to the Respondent (the National Council of SPCAs) or local SPCAs could reasonably be expected to prejudice the future supply of similar information from persons wishing to remain anonymous and that it is in the public interest that similar information continue to be supplied so as to further the Respondent’s statutory objective.

“By disclosing information about the complaint‚ the main sources of the Respondent’s information‚ being tip-offs‚ is likely to be jeopardised and the Respondent’s obligations threatened.”

The applicant in the case was the South African Pork Producers Organisation (Sappo)‚ whose demand “that the NSPCA be compelled to reveal the identity” of an informant who “had submitted a complaint regarding welfare issues at the facility of a Sappo member” was turned down by the court in November last year.

Sappo took the matter on appeal.

The NSPCA said Thursday’s judgement confirmed that “the SPCA movement treat all complaints as confidential as per our own Code of Ethics”.

“This prevents disclosure of the name of the complainant except for purposes of a criminal prosecution‚ when this decision is taken out of our hands‚” it said.

The NSPCA could see itself in court again soon‚ after Tiger Brands earlier this week confirmed that the NSPCA laid a criminal charge against Pork Packers Abattoir for allegedly operating “an inhumane facility”.

The NSPCA said on Tuesday that criminal charges had been laid in terms of the Animals Protection Act against Enterprise Foods trading as Pork Packers Abattoir‚ a division of Tiger Brands‚ whose method of “stunning” pigs prior to slaughter was considered to be “unacceptable‚ inhumane and a violation of the Animals Protection Act”.

“The process involves caged pigs being mechanically lowered into a pit (also known as a Gondola System) which is pre-filled with carbon dioxide gas (CO2). This gondola gas system is remotely managed by Butina‚ an offsite Danish company. After exposure to the CO2 gas‚ the pigs suffocate as a result of the lack of oxygen.

“But until they lose consciousness‚ the pigs display violent reactions including panic-like symptoms such as kicking‚ gasping and frantic efforts to escape by climbing on top of one another‚” the NSPCA charged.

Responding to the statement‚ Tiger Brands said: “While Pork Packers understands the role that NSPCA plays‚ the NSPCA is not the regulatory authority for meat products and its demands of the company‚ and criminal charge laid against Pork Packers‚ are neither valid‚ rational nor in the interest of the animals.

“Tiger Brands’ CO2 stunning process and slaughtering protocol are approved and authorised by the relevant regulatory bodies‚” Tiger Brands added.

It said the regulatory body in this regard was the Department of Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and that Pork Packers had confirmed with the Ministry that its method was current best practice.

“It was also confirmed in recent meetings that Pork Packers is complying with all protocols.”

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