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Animal Cruelty Charges Brought Against Mohair Suppliers in South Africa

South Africa’s National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) has filed cruelty-to-animals charges against four angora goat farmers in the country.

The NSPCA said the action was taken following a recent exposé by the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which allegedly uncovered brutal abuse on farms in the Eastern and Western Capes of South Africa. The South African Police Service will now investigate the farmers, along with shearers and farmworkers, and then submit the case to the national prosecutor.

NSPCA said PETA provided it with video footage of workers purportedly dragging goats by the horns and legs and lifting them off the floor by the tail, in addition to other cruel treatments. Each of the alleged violations of South Africa’s Animals Protection Act is punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a fine of $275, according to PETA.

“The graphic footage that we received was shocking,” senior inspector Grace De Lange, manager of the NSPCA Farm Animal Protection Unit, said. “The agony and distress that these animals endured was both horrendous and unacceptable. The NSPCA will relentlessly pursue justice for the animals that have suffered so tremendously.”

The exposé from PETA involved going inside 12 farms earlier this year. It allegedly showed angora goat kids crying out in fear as they were rough-handled and shorn.

“For the first time, charges have been filed against mohair-industry workers for cruelly handling and slowly killing panicked goats,” PETA senior vice president Daphna Nachminovitch said. “PETA is calling on shoppers worldwide to reject cruelty to animals, and that includes never buying mohair, fleece or fur.”

Asked to comment on the charges being brought, industry group Mohair South Africa said it wasn’t informed about the nature or extent of the charges, but said “any form of animal abuse is unacceptable.” The group said, “Only once we have obtained a complete and detailed charge sheet will we be in a position to answer any questions. We understand that the NSPCA has a mandate to follow-up and investigate any allegations of animal abuse, and we respect that mandate.”

Many major retailers around the world have banned mohair and other animal-based materials in part as a response to PETA’s exposé. These companies include Zara, Gap, Banana Republic, H&M, Topshop, Forever 21, Uniqlo, Anthropologie, Ralph Lauren, Asos and Express.