Louise van der Merwe

Expert Louise van der Merwe

Expert in South African Animal law and Founder of the Animal Voice Academy


A journalist by profession, Louise is editor of Animal Voice, the only national magazine dedicated to improving the lives of farmed animals in South Africa.

Her activism for animals began in 1989 when she and her husband bought 20 point-of-lay hens for their small-holding. On off-loading the hens, she was horrified to find they were debeaked. She immediately telephoned the SPCA only to find that farmed animals, in those days, were not included in the SPCA's mandate of concern.

Louise then laid a charge of cruelty against the farming operation that had supplied the hens. The magistrate ruled that when buying a hen, one could rightfully expect to buy a 'whole' hen. Although the farmer was ordered to take back the hens, Louise did not return them. Instead she proceeded to lay a formal complaint with the police so that a public prosecution on the grounds of animal cruelty against the largest egg producer in South Africa could be set in motion. Eighteen months later, in 1992, the prosecuting authority declined to prosecute on the ground that there was 'no hope of success'.

Since then Louise has fought for the abolition of factory farming and the recognition of animals as sentient beings with intrinsic value. Through Animal Voice, the magazine, she has exposed atrocities, worked with supermarkets to ban battery eggs, challenging misleading advertising through the Advertising Standards Authority, petitioned Parliament for an amendment to the South African Constitution so as to include a 'duty to care for animals' clause, lobbied for changes to product labelling, challenged farming practices with the Consumer Commission – and the list goes on.

Recently Louise established the Animal Voice Academy enabling professionals in different walks of life to take a variation of online courses in Human Ethics and Animal Rights.

These courses are now accredited by the South African Veterinary Council (SAVA), the South African Board of People Practices (SABPP), the South African Council for Social Service Professionals (SACSSP) and (pending) the South African Council of Educators (SACE). A course for South African lawyers is in the pipeline and will be submitted for accreditation to the Law Society of South Africa before the end of 2018. This course is based on Louise's presentation to student lawyers at the Constitutional Court auditorium in Johannesburg on 'How the Law has failed South Africa's Animals".

Expert in South African Animal law and Founder of the Animal Voice Academy

Animal Voice Academy: www.animalvoiceacademy.org

Website: www.animalvoice.org

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