The Grahamstown Residents Association said it is pleased that most owners retrieved their livestock rounded up in an early morning raid on Thursday 19 October.
Close to 200 cattle and donkeys were herded to a central holding area in a joint operation that involved five state agencies alongside residents co-ordinated by the GRA who volunteered for the pre-dawn round-up of stray livestock in the city.
Around 15 South African Police Service officers, 12 members of the Stock Theft Unit, 15 Makana Parks Department staff, five Provincial Traffic Department officers and three local traffic officers were joined by 15 citizen volunteers in the operation that saw teams herding animals from different parts of Grahamstown.
According to GRA Secretary Tim Bull, 148 cows were retrieved by their owners and eight donkeys were removed to a safe site. Eleven fines of varying amounts were paid by owners to retrieve their animals.
Thirteen cattle remained unclaimed and would be taken to the municipal pound in Alexandria, Bull said.
Makana does not currently have an operational pound.
”We are delighted that most owners got their animals back,” Bull said. “Hopefully this is a first stage in changing the town’s landscape. It’s a first step in sorting out the dangers and damage done by stray livestock.
“Hopefully it’s a first step in engaging with stock owners to comply with the law regarding branding and the proper care of animals.”
Bull said the Association saw no problem with animals grazing in open spaces in and around the city provided they were branded to identify the owner and supervised by a dedicated herder.
“Unbranded and unsupervised stray livestock are the problem,” he said.
While he felt it had been a success, he said the operation would probably have to be repeated. “I’ve got no doubt we’ll have to run the operation again next month.”
Just over a month ago, the driver of a 14-wheeler truck had a narrow escape when he hit cattle on the N2 outside Grahamstown. In the incident, on Wednesday 13 September, the horse and trailer plunged down a 20-metre embankment, landing in the field of Belmont Valley farmer Greg Vroom. The driver got away without serious injury.
One of the owners coming to collect his animals yesterday – some of his herd of 25 – had questions for the police and Parks officials.
Zandisile Kuniri arrived at the holding area just before 8am, saying he’d got a call to say their cattle had been impounded.
“I’ve come to collect them. They said they’d found them next to the army houses. I don’t know yet how I’m going to get them back,” Kuniri said, concerned.
He hadn’t yet counted how many of his cattle were there, but a total of 25 usually grazed at Mayfield Farm.
One of the owners who’d met with Makana Parks Department recently, he said, “They said they’re taking the cattle to Alexandria because this pound here in Grahamstown isn’t safe. That’s the question I want to ask – how can they take the cattle of Makana to Ndlambe?”
While Kuniri’s cattle usually grazed at Mayfield, people kept stealing the fences there. A common pen next to the old farmhouse in Mayfield has been used in the past to keep cattle, which were then taken into the veld north of Mayfield to graze daily.
“It’s a problem,” he said. “We spoke with them so they could replace the fences, but they said the municipality hasn’t got money to do so.”
Comment from the police and Makana Municipality had not yet been received at the time of going to press.