Back to Africa Check

Yes, Kuwaiti ship met South African government terms to transport 60,000 sheep

On 30 September 2019 an article was published on South African news website Dispatch Live with the headline: “Sheep ship gets go-ahead to transport 60, 000 live sheep.” 

According to the article, a ship named Al Shuwaikh, docked in the East London harbour, in the Eastern Cape province, had been given the go-ahead to transport 60,000 live sheep to the country of Kuwait. The ship is owned by Kuwaiti livestock company Al Mawashi

The story was widely shared in South Africa on news platforms like Times Live and Go! & Express

There was a great deal of criticism of this news, because of the alleged harmful conditions under which the sheep would be transported.  

In an earlier article published on Times Live on 16 September, it was reported that the animals could suffer from heat stress, injuries and disease because of high temperatures in the areas they would be transported across. 

This was confirmed by Grace de Lange, manager of the South African National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) farm animal protection unit.

The NSPCA is an independent body responsible for protecting animals from cruelty and suffering in South Africa.

The final sign-off for exporting the animals to Kuwait was subject to the ship meeting provincial government health standards.

The article was flagged as possibly false by Facebook’s fact-checking system.

So did the Al Shuwaikh get clearance to export 60,000 sheep? We investigated.

Ship met all provincial government requirements

Ayongezwa Lungisa, a representative of the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, confirmed that the ship had passed department requirements. 

Lungisa said: “We can confirm that the vessel has met all the requirements to 61,000 sheep. As a province we are satisfied that the ship has met these requirements.” 

He furthermore said that department veterinary services would still inspect the sheep. “Should the animals [be] found to be in order, an export permit could be granted,” said the article.

NSPCA inspectors watched last sheep being loaded

According to a statement published on 4 October on the NSPCA’s website, the department’s inspection took place on 3 October.  Molefe, the director of veterinary public health of the Department of Agriculture, accompanied the NSPCA’s veterinarian and a senior inspector.

The statement further said: “Inspectors from the National Council of SPCAs and SPCAs watched the last sheep being loaded onto the Al-Shuwaikh vessel, along with an estimated 57,000 other sheep destined for the Middle East for inhumane slaughter.”

The statement went on to express the NSPCA personnel’s dissatisfaction with the mishandling of the animals.

The NSPCA said they would be laying charges in terms of the Animals Protection Act against the South African government and the Eastern Cape provincial government. 

Charges would also be laid for animal cruelty and assault against Al Mawashi staff and those who stopped NSPCA inspectors from performing their duties. 

But the articles shared on social media were correct. Despite controversy, the Al Shuwaikh received clearance from the South African government to transport the sheep. − Butchie Seroto

Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.