FREEME UPDATE: NSPCA expresses long process ahead for FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre to receive their permit

WILD CAT: A female caracal kitten in a rehabilitation programme.

The NSPCA expressed the long process ahead for FreeMe to receive their permit of operation.

Manager of the NSPCA’s Wildlife Protection Unit, Isabel Wentzel, said, “The centre has been going through a lot of management changes and was once under a staff member’s permit. When that staff member left… the centre did not have a legal permit.”

The rehabilitation centre is currently reapplying for a permit and will be closed until their permit has been reapproved by the Gauteng Department of Agricultural and Rural Development (GDARD).

“The birds and animals that were being rehabilitated at the centre are being transferred to other facilities and the animals that are ready to be released will be released into the wild,” she said.

Wentzel also said the rehabilitation centre is starting a new permit which usually takes a long process to get approved. “The duration for FreeMe to receive their permit cannot be stated at the moment seeing that there is a lot of paper work and procedures to take place when applying for a new permit. They will go through an assessment process to see if they are fit enough to get their permit approved.”

According to general manager of FreeMe, Margo Bansda, “In September, FreeMe had started discussions with GDARD about the new direction it was taking which would lead full compliance and accountability by the organisation including staff, interns and volunteers under the direction of the new board. However, recent activities at the centre brought the organisation to a grinding halt which impeded on staff from performing their full duties.”

She said as a result thereof FreeMe voluntarily requested a temporary closure which included the suspension of admissions as requested by GDARD.

“In addition the management of the current cases would be made under the guidance and recommendations of NSPCA. This came into effect as of 10 November,” said Bansda.

Ward 93 councillor Annette Deppe said, “In light of the recent events regarding the lease of FreeMe’s property, Councillor Stephen Moore and I are assisting with a temporary consent use on the land through the Joint Parliamentary Committee and City Parks so that they are able to renew their permits. If this is successful, we will then apply for a more permanent lease. It is important to support such a rehabilitation facility as many pupils and volunteers visit the centre during the holidays, the centre teaches our children how to take care of animals and responsibility.”

Masego Seemela

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