Mr Douglas Wolhuter, Manager, Wildlife Protection Unit

Meg Wilson, Public Relations

Tuesday 6th April 2021

On the 30th of March 2021 Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife published the following statement on social media: 

On Monday, 29th March 2021 various divisions of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (Ezemvelo), working together with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) successfully seized close to 100 Vervet Monkeys that were illegally kept in Umsizi Umkomaas Vervet Monkey Rescue Centre.
The Owner was charged with breaking two sections of Nature Conservation Ordinance 15 of 1974.  The two sections that she failed to adhere to are:
• Section 80 (1) of the Nature Conservation Ordinance 15 of 1974 which states that “No person shall keep in captivity any indigenous mammal or exotic mammal, except in terms of a permit granted under subsection 2 of section 84 and in accordance with the conditions, if any, imposed under subsection (3) of that section.”
• Section 213 (4B) which states that “ Any person who fails to comply with any lawful demand made by any Officer or honorary Officer under this Ordinance, or wilfully gives any false or misleading information in pursuance of such demand shall be guilty of an offence and be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding five hundred rand, or in default payment, to imprisonment for any term exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment.
The owner of Umsizi Vervet Monkeys Rescue Centre had been given 21 days’ notice on 4th February 2021 to remove the monkeys. She was charged yesterday and was given a R1500 fine.
All vervet monkeys removed by Ezemvelo Game Capture Unit will be disposed of in accordance with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Guidelines for the Placement of Confiscated Animals. These guidelines include

• returning confiscated animals to the wild;
• returning confiscated animals in captivity and
• Euthanasia.
The Consulting team that assisted in confiscating all monkeys, first walked around the property viewing all occupied outdoor enclosures which each housed between 5 to approximately 30 individual Vervet Monkeys. The monkeys were kept in five different enclosures.
In one enclosure next to the kitchen, there were multiple monkeys housed in an extremely small (3.5m x 2m) and dark outdoor area with no sun availability and no perches (except for one beam which was attached to broken and rusting steel mesh). The walls and floors were covered in old faecal matter and had to be swept out by the consulting team before catching could begin.
The SPCA began catching in the second enclosure, netting a few individuals, but the consulting team took over. The floor was covered in sludge and faecal matter with the team having to clean their boots multiple times in order to prevent slipping while catching.
The team noticed a male which was looking lethargic and caught him up immediately and boxed him as an individual. Whilst the rest of the catching was done, this male was monitored throughout. Catching was particularly difficult in this enclosure as multiple areas of roofing were rusted and damaged as well as having broken mesh in and around the enclosure.
The 4th enclosure housed 6 individuals. This enclosure showed the most obvious health and safety concerns. Large nails were sticking out of the walls, rotting roofing and broken floor boards allowed for monkeys to hide in these unsanitary, unsafe areas. One monkey caught its cheek on an exposed nail which created a small superficial cut along its cheek. These monkeys were boxed together.
Each troop other than the smaller groups were split into 2 large boxes with a capacity between 6 and 10 individuals. The boxes are 1.5m x 1.2m x 1m with a steel frame as to ensure the safety of the monkeys while being transported.
Dr. Roy Jones, who is Ezemvelo’s District Conservation Manager – Ethekwini has expressed his appreciation to SPCA and all officials involved in the rescue of these monkeys and further warned that Ezemvelo will continue to confiscate animals that are kept without official permit.


At the time of writing this letter, the post on Facebook had received 735 comments the majority of which were not complimentary towards Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the SPCA or the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife.

In light of the SPCA objective and mission which is to serve and protect all animals, to uplift their welfare and to ensure that the protection they have under South African law is upheld and respected, to prevent cruelty and promote the welfare of all animals, whilst our vision is to end animal cruelty in South Africa and engender compassion for animals the members of WAPFSA would appreciate an urgent response to this letter to confirm where the nearly 100 vervet monkeys seized during the aforementioned raid are being held at present. 

WAPFSA consists of an alliance of diverse South African organisations and individuals that share certain values, knowledge and objectives that collectively comprise of a body of expertise from scientific, conservation, legal, animal rights, tourism, social justice and public advocacy sectors.

Whilst WAPFSA members appreciate the fact that the SPCA cannot comment on the on-going matter that is being heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on behalf of the owner of the Umzizi Umkomaas Vervet Rescue Centre.  The raid was apparently illegal because it was carried out without a warrant.  

Our concern is for the well-being of the vervet monkeys whilst the outcome of the high-court matter is being determined. 

WAPFSA members would however like to be advised if the NSPCA will be  investigating what transpired during the aforementioned raid and what exactly happened to the confiscated vervet monkeys?  

Will the NSPCA be pursuing charges against the organisations and or individuals involved with regard to the Animal Protection Act?  Will the NSPCA therefore investigate the SPCA branch that was present and active during this raid?

WAPFSA members would, in particular, like the following questions answered:

  1. A number of the captured monkeys were physically and mentally challenged, were special precautions taken to make sure these monkeys received adequate care during the confiscation process?
  2. Were the monkeys unnecessarily terrified during the capture process?
  3. Did one of the monkeys die during the capture process?
  4. Where were the monkeys transported to? What was the distance covered between the capture site and the release site? 
  5. How many monkeys died during the transportation from stress and/or heat exhaustion?
  6. At the “release” site, were a number of monkeys shot? 
  7. Who gave the order to exterminate these monkeys?
  8. Were they shot in their cages?
  9. Were the monkeys in individual cages?
  10. How many shots were fired in total?
  11. How many monkeys survived and where are these monkeys being held?

The undersigned members of the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa (WAPFSA) look forward to receiving a timely explanation and answers to our important and relevant questions.

Yours faithfully, Megan Carr and Steve Smith

Megan Carr Founder Rhinos in Africa

Steve Smith Co-Founder Monkey Helpline

Dave du Toit Founder Vervet Monkey Foundation

Samantha Dewhirst Director Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education

Jenni Trethowan Founder Baboon Matters

Lorraine Holloway Director Baboons of the South

Smaragda Louw Director Ban Animal Trading

Michele Pickover Director EMS Foundation

Stefania Falcon Founder Future 4 Wildlife South Africa

Toni Brockhoven Chairperson Beauty Without Cruelty

Wynter Worsthorne Founder Animal Talk Africa

Sairusha Govindsamy Founder Africa Climate Alliance

Stephen Fritz Chief South Peninsula Khoi Council

Jabu Myeni Founder Gifted for Good

Linda Tucker CEO Founder Global White Lion Protection Trust

Les Mitchell Director Institute for Critical Animal Studies Africa

Kim Da Ribeira Director OSCAP

Vivien Law Parliament for the People

Lex Abnett Director Southern African Fight for Rhinos

Sera Farista Youth Climate Group

Guy Jennings Director WildAid Southern Africa

Fiona Miles Director Four Paws South Africa

Image Credit: Tracy Rowles Umsizi Umkomaas Vervet Rescue Centre

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