Rutal Killings Are Wrong

27th December 2010

Pleas from animal rights activists have fallen on deaf ears and young Zulu men will again kill a bull with their bare hands as part of this year's fresh fruits festival, the Ukweshwana.

The Zulu royal house yesterday denied receiving letters from animal rights organisations, which have condemned the killing of the bull during the festival, which is scheduled to take place in the first week of December in Nongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Animal Rights Africa said it had sent letters and emails to political heads including King Goodwill Zwelithini on the matter.

The Ukweshwana festival, presided over by the Zulu king, is normally accompanied by a ritual in which young Zulu men kill a bull with their bare hands, which is considered a test of their courage.

Prince Mbonisi Zulu, the spokesperson of the Zulu royal house and the custodian of the festival, said no letters of complaint had been received from animal rights activists and preparations for the festival were going ahead.

"We have not received any kind of correspondence from any animal rights organisations and we are going ahead with the festival, we are preparing for it as we speak."

But Steve Smit of Animal Rights Africa, said his organisation had written several letters to the royal household, the premier and other stakeholders.

Smit said Animal Rights Africa would apply for a court interdict to stop the festival, if necessary.

"If we do not get a response from the people who have received the letters soon, then we will consult with our legal counsel to draw up the interdict application."

Smit said his organisation's actions were not intended to disrespect anyone's culture, but were meant to protect animals.

"It is not fair to put an animal through anxiety and pain, animals have feelings too."

Premier Zweli Mkhize said the government wanted to reach a solution which was acceptable to all parties.

"This is a very sensitive matter and the provincial government wants to consult widely to ensure that all affected parties and roleplayers reach an amicable decision for the benefit of the whole nation," he said.

It had been reported in the media that animal activists in Cape Town had approached talk show queen Oprah Winfrey to intervene in the matter but her office had not responded.

Earlier this month, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) expressed concern about the issue in a letter to President Jacob Zuma.

Last month, animal right activists, who met at the first pan-African conference on animal welfare in Kenya, petitioned the South African Parliament, calling for the recognition of animals as sentient, deserving of care, respect and protection.

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