Animal Testing & The Law in South Africa

There is no legislation specifically directed at the protection, or monitoring, of animals used in research in South Africa; they fall under the Animal Protection Act 72 of 1962, which is inadequate for this purpose.

The introduction of laws to regulate the use of laboratory animals has been deferred since 1962 and in 2015 there is still no sign of such legislation being promulgated. The only so-called “protection” for lab animals came in 1990 when, after an investigation into the treatment of experimental animals, a committee comprised of representatives from the government, medical researchers, universities, research groups and animal welfare societies, was formed to draft a national code which was published in 1990, but was voluntarily adhered to and had no legal standing.

In 2001 Standards South Africa, a division of the S.A. Bureau of Standards, was asked to draft a new set of recommendations for the use of laboratory animals and this resulted in The South African National Standard – The Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, being published (Obtainable from Standards Sales Dept www.sabs.co.za ). The new Standard replaces the previous code and is intended to be attached to the Animal Protection Act as a point of reference and to form the basis of any future legislation, but in the meantime it too will only be voluntarily adhered to.

The Standard mainly focuses on the use of vertebrates, even though there is evidence to suggest that invertebrates too experience pain. At the very least, the welfare of “higher” invertebrates, such as the octopus and squid must be taken into account, as it is clear that these intelligent animals, with their complex nervous systems, are capable of suffering.

Animals are sentient beings and at Beauty Without Cruelty’s insistence this has been acknowledged in the new code; now their rights and sentience must be recognised in law, where they are at present legally classified as “things” or movable property.


Europe, the world’s largest cosmetic market, Israel and India have already banned animal testing for cosmetics, and the sale or import of newly animal-tested beauty products.

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Advertising Standards Authority states that companies must be able to provide proof of their humane claims. Beauty without Cruelty is an accepted independent organisation able to audit such proof.

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Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is 'Because the animals are like us.' Ask the experimenters why it is morally OK to experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are not like us.' Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.” - Professor Charles R. Magel (1980)