More than 100 chickens were confiscated from the hawkers next to the traffic light on the corner of Govan Mbeki Road in Philippi .
The traders said they were shocked when the Cape of Good Hope Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), arrived in a truck along with members of the City of Cape Town law enforcement officials to seize their chickens.
The welfare organisation and the law enforcement officials confiscated 126 live chickens from the hawkers on Friday June 3.
Those who spoke to Vukani said trading was their only source of income and they didn’t know what they’d do now that their animals had been taken.
According to the SPCA, the chickens had been confiscated due to their poor condition, including, bruises, broken bones and stress they have gone through.
The organisation said it had issued several warnings to the vendors for violating the Animal Protection Act, but the warnings had been ignored.
Chief inspector Jaco Pieterse said: “Firstly, the majority of the chickens did not have access to any form of shelter or protection against weather elements. Only two vendors had shelter for their chickens, of these two vendors only one had water for her chickens and these chickens were not confiscated as she was compliant.
“The rest of the chickens did not have access to drinking water and no shelter or protection against weather elements besides the two mentioned that had,” he said.
He said every week inspectors visited the site, to educate the vendors on the humane care and treatment of the chickens. Guidelines, he said, included that they must have water at all times, adequate shelter or protection against the elements and that the chickens must be handled and carried humanely.
“This all fell on deaf ears and the vendors are not listening or complying. Several warnings have been issued to all the vendors so they cannot claim they did not know as they were well aware of what is required,” Mr Pieterse said.
“They always laugh at our inspectors and think it is a joke. The law is very clear. Animals must have access to water, shelter/protection against weather elements and they must be treated humanely.”
He said all 126 confiscated chickens had been examined by a veterinarian upon arrival at the SPCA, and 73 had had to be humanely euthanased as they were in poor health and suffering.
“The majority of them were suffering from broken wings, broken/injured feet, lameness, emaciation, dehydration, eye injuries, and other things. The vendors will not be getting their chickens back unless the court decides otherwise. Criminal charges in terms of the Animals Protection Act will now be laid against the vendors,” said Mr Pieterse.
Hawker Lindiwe Gondola said the SPCA and law enforcement had arrived when the workers who assist them were out to fetch water but the SPCA did not listen to them.
“We are being treated like thieves in our own land. We do not even know what to do. We are here trying to do the living and we have taken boys from the streets to assist us instead of them robbing people,” she said, adding that authorities should rather help them access suitable shelter and water for the chickens that they sell.
She admitted that they had attended education sessions, but “these things that are needed are too expensive”.
“They want licences. They also told us this land is not ours. But where must we trade?” she asked.
She said trading was her only source of income and she did not know what she would do now that her chickens had been seized.
Xolisa Nobhanda said she had been selling there for about 20 years. Never before, she said, had she been accused of being abusive toward animals.
“This is just a way to see us suffering and remain poor. Since when did we become abusers of animals? This Western Cape is not for blacks and poor,” she said.