Police and members of the Animal Anti-Cruelty League were at the Fairview Racecourse early on Thursday morning, following reports that at least one horse had been killed, allegedly by a group of protesters.
A number of horses were also released from their stables at the course, allegedly by the same group.Reports from the scene are that at least one horse was murdered and another injured. Nine of the missing 22 horses have been found.
According to the International Racing Club, staff who had been fired for the stabbing of a racehorse earlier this year were retaliating against the trainer, killing and maiming horses and physically threatening her. The Racing Club is calling on racing authority Phumelela to take action against those involved.
In February, a trainer dismissed an employee who had allegedly stabbed a horse. The dismissal led to a protest by a group of disgruntled grooms. Reports by the Sporting Post in March state the trainer went to the high court in a move to restore order and secure the safety of her horses and personnel. The order was granted, restraining respondents from entering her stable premises and threatening her and other staff.
The unrest has been simmering since then. A CCMA ruling this week to uphold the groom's firing is said to be the reason for Thursday's protest.International Racing Club spokesperson Michael de Haast, who said he personally lost horses in the attack, said something had to be done to stop “this incredible violence and abuse against these animals”.
He said it was alleged that a group of ex-employees, “who are a known threat to the yard and whom the yard have a court interdict against”, had been living in an informal settlement near the Phumelela racing grounds, despite having been fired for stabbing a horse”.