Suspension of NSPCA Website because of Defamatory Content
DEFAMATORY CONTENT ABOUT LIVE EXPORTS RESULTS IN SUSPENSION OF NSPCA’S WEBSITE
East London, 26 October 2021
Al Mawashi SA today has welcomed a web hosting company’s compliance with the Internet Service Providers’ Association’s (ISPA) code of conduct, and for acting upon their client’s misconduct that went against its Acceptable Usage Policy (AUP).
The web hosting company today (26 October 2021) suspended the NSPCA’s website from its servers for misleading and defamatory content that resulted in the misrepresentation of Al Mawashi SA and the live exports trade of sheep from South Africa to the Middle East.
Early this month, South Africa’s apex internet authority was approached with a detailed complaints submission on misleading content on the NSPCA’s website that defamed and misrepresented Al Mawashi SA, livestock carrier the Al Messilah, and the live exports trade from South Africa to the Middle East.
The detailed complaints submission highlighted a litany or complaints across select web pages on NSPCA’s website that was not in line with the web hosting company’s AUP and would have rendered the company in breach of ISPA’s code of conduct.
ISPA forwarded the complaint to the web hosting company which in turn issued NSPCA with an instruction to remove various sections of misleading content about Al Mawashi SA and SA to the Middle East live exports.
Failure by the NSPCA to institute remedial steps despite an instruction from the web hosting company resulted in the suspension of the NSPCA’s website today (26 October). The web hosting company’s AUP states it “reserves the right to request changes or disable, as necessary, any website, account, database, or any other component that does not comply with its established policies.”
In a letter, the NSPCA’s attorney denied content it produced and published about Al Mawashi SA and SA to the Middle East live exports was defamatory. While the NSPCA was provided with an opportunity to robustly defend the serious complaints raised, it elected not to do so and said it would approach the High Court for an urgent interdict.
Al Mawashi SA’s complaints submission to ISPA, amongst other, detailed how NSPCA over a period of time:
• generated and published news and content that was of a misleading, vexatious and scandalous nature, which provoked many instances of hate-speech against Al Mawashi SA but also against people of the Middle East that require live animals for religious and cultural customs;
• used international video content unrelated to SA live exports to the Middle to misrepresent the industry and to mislead the public;
• used international images of animal cruelty and generalised it as the de facto conditions that animals are subjected to during shipments in order to misrepresent the industry;
• maligned an internationally accredited Al Messilah livestock carrier used for long-haul transportation of sheep from SA to the Middle East as ‘death ship’ and ‘rust bucket’
It is concerning that the NSPCA did nothing to defend the complaints leveled against it and did not undertake any proposed remedial steps or corrective measures to prevent the website from being suspended, despite having advanced notice and the opportunity to do so.
Earlier this year, the NSPCA failed on several occasions to prove to South African courts, including the Constitutional Court, that live exports from SA to the Middle East is inherently cruel.
On 15 July 2021, Makhanda High Court Judge Jali ruled (Case No 995/2020):
“The averments [by NSPCA] in my view are not only irrelevant to this application but are also vexatious, scandalous and are designed to embarrass and put the respondents [Al Mawashi] in a very bad light […] as such they must be struck out with costs.” Here, the judge refers to the court papers of the NSPCA that argued that cruelty is inflicted on the sheep they export to the Middle East and that animals are ill-treated by Al Mawashi SA.
“South African live exports remain a critical enabler and catalytic pillar of country’s agricultural economy and the red meat industry. As such, SA live exports must be nurtured and protected from misinformation,” said Al Mawashi MD, Mr. Ilyaas Ally.