Pound fury

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Municipal inaction causes headache for motorists and farmers as cattle roam free

CLOSED FOR BUSINESS: The municipal pound in Alexandria was locked and empty when TotT visited it.
CLOSED FOR BUSINESS: The municipal pound in Alexandria was locked and empty when TotT visited it.

JON HOUZET

A YEAR after it was completed, Ndlambe Municipality’s pound is still not operating, while stray animals continue to cause accidents on public roads and wander onto private farms.

Among the serious allegations levelled against the municipality is that municipal manager Rolly Dumezweni issued instructions for the pound to be closed shortly after it opened, in contravention of the municipality’s own by-laws. Dumezweni has denied the allegation.

There were two accidents involving stray cattle – one in Alexandria and the other near Salem – last weekend, and cattle were also photographed wandering along Albany Road in Port Alfred on Wednesday morning.

Chairman of the Alexandria Agricultural Association Brent McNamara recently reported two incidents to the municipality involving stray animals wandering onto farms, and Ndlambe only undertook to collect the animals after TotT sent questions about the issue.

McNamara has been battling for years to have the municipality sort out the pound. A few years ago he was contracted to be the municipality’s pound master, until the stray cattle issue became a political hot potato and the municipality discontinued using his services.

Certain councillors claimed that McNamara was “stealing people’s cattle” when he impounded strays, which he roundly refuted. The municipality eventually built its own pound in Alexandria, at a cost of R180000, but to date has not appointed a pound master and made excuses for the pound not opening.

NOT USED: The municipal truck modified to transport cattle stands idle in the Alexandria municipal works yard Picture: JON HOUZET
NOT USED: The municipal truck modified to transport cattle stands idle in the Alexandria municipal works yard Picture: JON HOUZET

In response to a question about the pound at a council meeting in February, community protection services director Nombulelo Booysen, said the pound was operational, but there had been a problem with the vehicle needed to transport stray cattle.

Booysen said there were two trucks in Alexandria used for parks and recreation, and the department of transport had been involved in modifying a truck for transport of cattle, but got the specifications wrong.

When TotT visited Alexandria, we saw both the pound, which was empty and locked, and the refitted truck, standing idle at the municipal works yard.

McNamara pointed to a bar which had been fitted to strengthen the transport cage, making the truck suitable for cattle.

He provided TotT with letters he had sent to the municipality, none of which have been answered. “The lack of response by municipal officials and conflicting reports received by members of [our] association when trying to send animals to the Alexandria Municipal Pound is extremely frust rating,” he said.

He said one of the recent incidents involved three stray donkeys that a farmer had found on his land.

FREE RANGE: Stray cattle were grazing on the side of the road just around the corner from the empty animal pound Picture: JON HOUZET
FREE RANGE: Stray cattle were grazing on the side of the road just around the corner from the empty animal pound Picture: JON HOUZET

Attempts to reach the by-law enforcement officer, Simphiwe Klaas, were fruitless but McNamara said he did manage to contact Booysen’s deputy, Fanie Fouche, who promised that he would get Klaas to contact and assist him. He heard nothing further and a visit to the community protection services offices also yielded no result.

He finally got hold of Klaas when he phoned him from the Grahamstown police station. “Mr Klaas told me that he could not receive animals on the express instructions of the municipal manager,” McNamara said. “The municipal manager has repeatedly refused to answer my requests for clarity on this matter.” In the most recent incident, McNamara found 11 stray cattle on his own farm among his stud breeding cows.

He again attempted to contact Klaas without success and opened a case with the police. He informed Booysen and Fouche of the incident. “Ten of the cattle are not marked in accordance with the Animal Identification Act. “One cow does have a type of illegible mark, which might be LS on the left rump. Due to the fact that these animals were found in with my breeding cattle, and their health status is unknown, I will require that they are tested for communicable diseases and the results received, before they are returned to their owners or disposed of.”

In response to TotT’s queries about the pound not operating, municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa said the matter would be discussed at tomorrow’s council meeting.

He said a truck had been sent to collect the stray donkeys and cattle on McNamara’s farm. McNamara confirmed he had received a message in that respect at the same time TotT received the municipality’s answers.

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