Non-profit Mohair South Africa has launched an investigation into allegations of cruelty in the country's mohair industry following allegations of animal abuse on South African angora goat farms by animal rights group PETA.

The video exposé of the mohair industry in South Africa – the source of more than 50% of the world's mohair – has prompted several big British and international brands to pledge to ban the cruelly obtained material. Arcadia Group, Inditex, Gap Inc and Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) made the commitment last month and were quickly followed by Marks & Spencer, Next, Primark and Mango.

The PETA Asia investigation encompassed 12 farms visited in January and February of this year, and revealed workers dragging goats by the horns and legs and lifting them off the floor by the tail, which can break their spines.

PETA US has asked law-enforcement agencies to file charges, as appropriate, for what the group believes are violations of South Africa's Animals Protection Act, 1962.

Following the release of PETA's video, Mohair South Africa said it immediately launched its own investigation into the allegations and engaged the services of an independent quality assurance company, SAMIC, to conduct an audit of the farms identified as having been visited by the PETA representative.

"The investigations have identified that the shearing in the video footage originates from two farms," said Deon Saayman, managing director of Mohair South Africa.

"On both these farms the shearing was conducted by the same independent shearing contractor. Mohair South Africa has demanded a full report and explanation from the contractor in question as to the breaches of its guidelines apparent from the footage. The shearing contractor has also been requested to report on its disciplinary process in respect of the persons implicated in the video footage, and the measures it has undertaken to ensure the prevention of any future breaches of Mohair South Africa's guidelines and policies."

The farms depicted in the shearing footage have been suspended from mohair auctions, according to Saayman, and will be required to inform Mohair South Africa when their next shearing will take place. 

Among other things, Mohair South Africa is a member of Textile Exchange, which identifies and shares best practices regarding farming, materials, processing, traceability and product end-of-life in order to reduce the textile industry's impact on the environment.

It has also implemented a traceability system to allow it to track the exact origin of the mohair used in every item containing the fibre, and has allocated additional resources for the continued assessment and rating of angora goat farms – with ratings to reassure mohair buyers that it has been ethically produced. 

The production of mohair supports about 30,000 people, Saayman said, adding that a ban will leave many destitute, as well as the loss of about 800,000 angora goats in South Africa.

"Mohair South Africa will continue the dialogue with international clothing brands about their decision to stop using mohair, while at the same time continuing to act against any person who falls short of our standards."

However, PETA US claims Mohair South Africa's investigation is "grossly inadequate" and say its findings have already been shown to be "erroneous" with the shearing visuals coming from four farms as opposed to two.

The contractor, PETA US says, claims to shear about 3.4m goats and sheep per year. "It is a massive enterprise with nearly 1,000 shearers – so it's reasonable to believe that abuse is widespread," it says. "This contractor is also an affiliate of the world's largest mohair broker, so the reach of these parties – and thus the cruelty documented at the shearers' hands – cannot be overstated."

The group, which says it expects confirmation that Mohair South Africa will support the prosecution of any individuals charged by law enforcement with cruelty to animals, says no "farm assessment" will change the fact that goats are "prey animals", and claims it is "absurd" to suggest that 800,000 goats will die as a result of mohair bans.

"The industry slaughters all the goats and breeds more and more to slaughter in turn. As companies ban mohair, that cycle of abuse followed by slaughter is broken, and as the demand decreases, the supply will gradually follow, meaning that fewer goats will be bred into an industry that causes pervasive suffering and far fewer will end up on the slaughter line."