Durban – A suspect arrested for the attack on racehorses at Fairview Racecourse training centre in Port Elizabeth last week has been released on bail.
More than 150 rioting workers tortured and stabbed the horses in an incident sparked by grooms formerly employed by PE trainer Yvette Bremner.
Port Elizabeth police spokesperson, Colonel Priscilla Naidu, said the 49-year-old, who was arrested shortly after the incident, appeared in the St Albans Magistrate’s Court yesterday on charges of public violence and malicious injury to property. Naidu said the case was adjourned to October 26.
Zukile Matshisi, 49, was allegedly among the protesters who released 28 racehorses from Bremner’s yard at the racecourse. The incident resulted in some horses being tortured and sustaining numerous injuries.
Mike de Haast from the International Racing Club, who is one of the horse owners directly affected by the protest, said two horses were in a critical condition, four were badly injured and five were recovering.
De Haast said while the horses were healing, they had a long road to recovery.
“Most have had quite a bit of colic, all related to the stress and the trauma of what happened,” he said.
He said a little filly that was savagely attacked with a panga and stabbed in her leg, was recovering well.
However, De Haast said they were not sure what was wrong with her leg after X-rays revealed there were no broken bones.
“We don’t know if there’s nerve damage or what was done to the muscles. She’s still struggling to walk and limping quite badly,” he said. The rest of the horses that were healthy enough to be moved were safely transported to Summerveld in Durban.
Bremner and her partner, Hedley McGrath, who is also a leading owner, announced that they were leaving racing at the weekend.
No other arrests have been confirmed.
Inspector Carla Hazel from the Horse Care Unit said they were still uncertain if the horses that were in a more serious condition would survive.
In terms of the identification of the other protesters, Hazel said the trainer had footage of who started the protest and how it was carried out.
She said they had not been able to reach the owner and were waiting to hear how they could assist with cases.
“It’s a sad time for the country, let alone racing,” added Hazel.
The Animal Anti-Cruelty League’s Beverly Rademeyer said she was waiting for feedback from the Horse Unit regarding what action would be taken and if they were compiling a docket for a case of cruelty to animals.
“We’ve got quite a good history of having cases being won in court,” she said.