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2016 | OriginalPaper | Buchkapitel

7. Animal Interests and South African Law: The Elephant in the Room?

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Abstract

Since the inception of constitutional democracy in South Africa in 1994, legislators, policy-makers and courts alike have tended to avoid expressly recognising the interests of animals in law. This chapter will seek to consider this trend in two significant areas – namely, the protection of animals against cruelty and the regulation of wildlife – in which there have been engagements in post-apartheid South Africa between the law and animal interests. Other than complete avoidance, where animal interests are considered, the discourse of courts and legislative bodies avoids the ethical implications of such a recognition and focuses on “objective” scientific matters. I shall contend that this “avoidance” of animal interests and ethics may often be successful in enhancing protections for animals and can be justified, at times, in this light. Yet, if the interests of animals continue to be routinely ignored, legal actors contribute towards the blindness of human beings to their value and thus limit what can be achieved in advocating for better protections. Thus, litigation and advocacy strategies need to develop a manner of ensuring that animal interests are expressly placed on the table and inviting courts (and other actors) to make pronouncements that can alter the status and seriousness with which they are treated. Such an approach, moreover, will be consistent with the ideas that shaped the liberation struggle and new constitutional order in South Africa and recognise that compassion, humanity and a refusal to sanction injustice must not arbitrarily be confined to the human species but extend to other animals too.

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Fußnoten
1
Recently, Kymlicka and Donaldson (2011) have indeed provided a strong argument for recognising animals as citizens (of differing types).
 
2
Bilchitz (2012) makes the case for why the existing Constitution should be interpreted to include protection for animals. The piece acknowledges that these protections are not explicit and must be drawn from an exercise of purposive constitutional interpretation. For a contrary view, see Metz (2012).
 
3
PAPA Long Title.
 
4
Sections 2 and 3 of the Act.
 
5
Regulations GNR 1672 (1 September 1993).
 
6
This is a summary of the requirements outlined by the court.
 
7
I have drawn elements of the description of this case and the analysis of its defects from Bilchitz (2014).
 
8
Parliament failed to amend the bill within the initial time period stipulated by the Constitutional Court and asked for an extension of time to complete the amendment. The Performing Animals Protection Amendment Bill was passed by the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on 20 November 2015 and was due to be introduced to the National Assembly shortly thereafter.
 
9
This does not lead me to conclude that the court was wrong to find a violation of separation of powers in this case; rather, its reasoning was flawed and should have been based on the better protection an executive committee would offer for animals: see Bilchitz (2014, pp. 190–192).
 
10
I have criticized the coherence and justifiability of this common law approach Bilchitz (2009, pp. 41–50).
 
11
11 It also prohibits the arbitrary exercise of state power (see Merafong: para 62): treating animals simply as ‘things’ could be regarded as arbitrary – see Bilchitz (2014).
 
12
Famously, in Makwanyane: para 88, Justice Chaskalson said that ‘it is only if there is a willingness to protect the worst and the weakest amongst us, that all of us can be secure that our own rights will be protected’. Mahomed CJ also stated in that judgment: para. 262 that the Constitution commits us to a ‘democratic, universalistic, caring and aspirationally egalitarian ethos’.
 
13
See section 2(1)(a) of the Animal Protection Act.
 
14
Rutherford-Smith (2012, fn. 34) gives a range of anthropological studies of the ceremony but states that ‘[p]hotographic evidence of the ceremony suggests that the slaughter is far more cruel, abusive and unorganized than is proposed by the respondents’. In Ramakatsa: para. 131, the Constitutional Court also refuses to accept the version of the respondent where it failed specifically to refute the irregularities complained of by the applicant in that case.
 
15
Rule 5(g) of the Uniform Rules of Court allow a judge to ‘make such order as it seems meet with a view to ensuring a just and expeditious decision…[i]n particular, but without affecting the generality of the aforegoing, it may direct that oral evidence be heard on specified issues with a view to resolving any dispute of fact….’.
 
16
The exact reasons for the APA are a matter of dispute in South African law. Early decisions such as Moato focused on human sensibilities as the reasons for the protection. However, this rationale has been challenged in a minority decision by Justice Edwin Cameron in Openshaw and in Bilchitz (2009).
 
17
A similar problem can be detected in Openshaw where the majority of the court is willing too readily to accept that animals would not be abused on the basis of a mere allegation in court papers. See Loggerenberg and Farlam (2014, Rule-B1-p50A) where it is recognized that courts must take a stronger line on the credibility of evidence on affidavit to avoid injustice and that ‘testimony which is contrary to all reasonable probabilities or conceded facts…goes for nothing’.
 
18
For the case for reading the existing bill of rights to apply to animals, see Bilchitz (2012).
 
19
This is a problem evidenced by examples in Germany which suggest that where a constitutionally-protected human interest clashes with statutorily-protected animal interests, human interests tend to triumph (Nattrass 2004, pp. 283ff). This led to a constitutional amendment in Germany and the express recognition of animal interests in article 20a of the Constitution.
 
20
See Rutherford-Smith (2012, pp. 81–83) who essentially makes this argument.
 
21
An argument to this effect is made in Mnyongani (2012, p. 102).
 
22
See the examples in Casals (2003, pp. 2–7). There is much discussion about discrimination that often occurs within religion and cultures against women and LGBT people (for instance). For an interesting case in the SA context relating to African culture and gender equality, see Bhe (2005).
 
23
See Lindsey et al. (2012) for discussion on the increase of canned lion hunting in South Africa.
 
24
Regulation 24(2).
 
25
This fact does not mean that Minister and Department concerned cannot address animal welfare in regulation. Many of the concerns of the Biodiversity Act are necessarily tied to questions of animal welfare which would found the basis for legislative intervention in this regard: see Bilchitz and Finn (2014).
 
26
Ireland (2002) argues that existing animal cruelty statutes can help address some of the abuses in the canned lion hunting industry in the United States context; similar points would apply in the SA context.
 
27
See Francione (2012, pp. 29–35) which draws on previous extensive work on this subject.
 
28
I was amongst the lawyers who opposed the resumption and presented a paper arguing why this was unjustifiable on a legal basis: Bilchitz (2004).
 
29
See further Whyte et al. (1999) for the historical development on elephant culling in the KNP.
 
30
Regulation 2(2)(vii).
 
31
Section 8(f).
 
32
The two key individuals – Michele Pickover and Steve Smit – deserve specific mention for their dogged determination and excellent organisation on this matter through Xwe African Wildlife and then Animal Rights Africa. Sadly, these organizations have now collapsed.
 
33
Unfortunately, the strong protections for elephants in Norms and Standards have led to those affected by this stringent standard to lobby government for a weakening of these protections. The Department of Environmental Affairs announced in 2014 that it would be seeking to re-draft the Norms and Standards and try and remove provisions relating to the welfare of elephants (as it claimed it lacked a mandate in this regard). Once again, this demonstrates the artificiality of attempting to separate environmental protection and welfare concerns in relation to animals: for a critique, see Bilchitz and Finn (2014).
 
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Metadaten
Titel
Animal Interests and South African Law: The Elephant in the Room?
verfasst von
David Bilchitz
Copyright-Jahr
2016
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-26818-7_7