It happened half a world away, but the violence from an angry mob against innocent creatures feels just as jarring and senseless as when it’s in our own backyard.
Fairview Racecourse in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, was the scene of a violent uprising that left at least one racehorse dead, another injured and several missing from their stables, according to The South African.
The group of former employees who police believe were responsible had been fired weeks before for stabbing a racehorse. They were living in a makeshift encampment on the racetrack grounds despite a court-ordered prohibition.
They allegedly stormed the facility on Sept. 17 because of a dispute over their pay and unemployment benefits through South Africa’s Unemployment Insurance Fund.
The mob released 28 horses from their stables, hacking at least one to death with a machete-like instrument and injuring others, while also allegedly threatening a female trainer who tried to protect her equine charges.
“I have dead horses, I have injured horses. … They killed one in the bushes,” one of the stable managers told the news outlet.
“This is an absolute nightmare. These people are barbaric, it’s absolute savagery.”
Eleven horses were missing as they fled into the surrounding brush, making it harder for authorities to retrieve them.
“It is a very sad day in this country when innocent animals are slaughtered and abused due to greed and hate,” International Racing Club spokesman Michael de Haast, whose own horses were caught up in the attack, told The South African.
“As Gandhi said, ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,’ and I fear that our nation has lost its way unless we take a very big stand against this.”
“This is happening at Fairview Race Course in Nelson Mandela Bay,” politician and YouTuber Renaldo “Ngamla” Gouws tweeted with footage apparently from the incident with people flooding onto grounds.
“The protest is allegedly due to non UIF payments. They have killed numerous horses with pangas.”
This is happening at Fairview Race Course in Nelson Mandela Bay. The protest is allegedly due to non UIF payments. They have killed numerous horses with pangas. pic.twitter.com/hSMeDNffXd
— Renaldo “Ngamla” Gouws ?? (@RenaldoGouws) September 17, 2020
Several of the roughly 100 protesters were arrested following the incident in which they “taunted and hurt” the racehorses, eNews Channel Africa reported.
In addition to the utter inhumanity of slaughtering these majestic creatures is the economic cost.
As of 2018, Forbes reported that it cost the U.S. equivalent of $25,000 to purchase a thoroughbred racehorse and about $5,000 annually to care for it on a stud farm in South Africa.
Horseracing added $226 million to the country’s gross domestic product in that year and has been rising in popularity in the nation.
The owners of Dippin Blu Racing in Fairview, Port Elizabeth, are considering legal action against a group of its former grooms who stormed the stables in protest on Thursday, allegedly killing one horse and injuring more than 20 others https://t.co/5dVLsnmZ75
— Sunday Times (@SundayTimesZA) September 18, 2020
It is unclear what the mob wished to achieve except to exact revenge as there was no monetary gain to be had by killing and maiming racehorses.
Much like the violent demonstrators in the U.S., they apparently were simply bloodthirsty and bent on destruction as they gave in to their most base wrathful desires.
It’s a man-made tragedy that killed and injured those horses.
Property destruction is always awful and senseless, but more so when the perpetrators take the lives of defenseless animals.
This incident demonstrates that the propensity toward violence transcends borders and oceans and is a universal result of a fallen nature shared by the whole of humanity.
Whether it is dead horses or burned cities — or worse — individuals act despicably when encouraged by a mob mentality, and the only way to make them stop is with proper law and order.
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