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Animal rights activists hold placards as they protest following the docking of the livestock carrier ship Al Kuwait in the Cape Town harbour, transporting 19,000 cattle from Brazil to Iraq, in Cape Town on February 20 2024. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/REUTERS
Animal rights activists hold placards as they protest following the docking of the livestock carrier ship Al Kuwait in the Cape Town harbour, transporting 19,000 cattle from Brazil to Iraq, in Cape Town on February 20 2024. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/REUTERS

The stench of 9,000 cows trapped on a ship berthed at Cape Town harbour on a stinking hot summer’s day was shocking to locals (“Ship carrying livestock overpowers Cape Town CBD with stench,” February 19).

The putrid smell permeated the city. But the plight of those animals was even more shocking. Having been rounded up in Brazil and jammed together onto a ship to spend an horrific month at sea on their way to be slaughtered for festivities in Saudi Arabia was a plight their land legs were not prepared for.

Forget that they were heading for mass slaughter (that’s what beef cattle are bred for), but remember they were for the celebration feast of Ramadan, a time of joy, when halal meats are served in a time of goodwill and benevolence. Halal requires a humane end to the life of an animal with a quick cut to the throat in a way that causes the animal the least suffering.

The plight of thousands of animals suffering on the way to their ritual slaughter is what is most shocking. It is not enough to know that each animal complies with the law of the Koran in its feeding and blessed death, but to know the food chain that brings the animal to the feast needs to also have the highest levels of compassion, and deviations from this must receive the highest condemnation.

Their appalling handling must evoke outrage in every one of us.

Royston Lamond
Cape Town

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