S.Africa animal welfare group smells a rat in rodent killing

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South Africa's animal welfare society Wednesday criticised the brutal killing of rats in Johannesburg's Soweto township as part of a clean-up campaign by the city council.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) posted a video on its website showing rodents being beaten to death with sticks.

"Bodies of rodents battered to death have been retained by the NSPCA for post mortem examination to determine the extent of their injuries and therefore suffering prior to death," it said.

A city official disputed the footage, saying the rats were gassed or otherwise euthanized.

"However we cannot pay greater attention to the welfare of rodents above that of a child bitten by a huge rat who lives in a shack," spokesman Nkosinathi Nkabinde told the SAPA news agency.

The NSPCA said unweaned rats, or pinkies, whose mothers were killed in the campaign, were left there to die, or put in plastic bags and thrown away.

The rodent eradication campaign has been conducted in several townships around Johannesburg to curb infestation.

Dumping sites near residential areas have become a breeding ground for rats, posing a health hazard.

© 2011 AFP

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