High court again orders Ndlambe to sort out cattle and commonages

A sequel in the Grahamstown High Court to the case of Ndlambe’s mismanaged commonages and the stray cattle issue, has seen the municipality again ordered to rectify all problems within set time frames, or face being found in contempt of court.

Ndlambe was also hit with extra costs for requesting postponements of high court hearings – the costs of which are ultimately borne by ratepayers.

The applicants in the case against Ndlambe are Agri EC, the Alexandria Agricultural Association, and four farmers who have been personally affected by issues of commonage mismanagement, broken fences, stock theft, and straying and diseased cattle on their land – Brent McNamara, Ignatius Muller, Elizabeth Klopper and Koos van Rooyen.

In the order handed down by judge Clive Plasket on July 10 – which TotT got a copy of this week – the municipality was ordered to ensure that all animals depastured on municipal commonages, on land under its control and in residential areas within the Alexandria, Bushman’s River and Kenton-on-Sea administrative district are to be tagged and branded within three months of the date of the order.

Also within three months, the municipality has to implement tariffs in accordance with its own bylaws for stock owners who keep their animals on municipal land and commonages.

For the Bathurst and Port Alfred administrative district, the municipality has been given a bit more time – six months – to address tagging and branding of animals on municipal land, commonage and wandering in residential areas.

The strict order compels the municipality to impound all unauthorised animals found on municipal land, commonages and in residential areas within six months of the order.

Added to this, Ndlambe has to determine the health status of all animals depastured on municipal commonages, on land under its control and in residential areas within 12 months, and in the same period ensure that all diseased animals are removed and kept in an isolated area reserved for such a purpose.

Ndlambe must also comply with the carrying capacity of its commonages within 18 months; repair all boundary fences in a poor condition on its commonages and public spaces under its control within 24 months; and table for adoption a policy plan to eradicate all alien invasive vegetation on municipal land within 12 months of the order.

Ndlambe Municipality, municipal manager Rolly Dumezweni and mayor Phindile Faxi were all named as respondents in the matter and the order was binding on them to be enacted either jointly or severally.

Plasket said in the event that the municipality, Dumezweni or Faxi fail to comply with any portion of the order, they have to submit a written explanation of the cause of the relevant non-compliance to the applicants within seven days, and if their explanation is deemed unsatisfactory, the applicants are entitled to approach the court on the same papers, with additions if necessary, for an order declaring the non-complying respondent to be in contempt of the court order, and to seek appropriate sanction.

“Failure by the non-complying respondent to submit a written explanation as set out above shall amount to contempt of court,” Plasket added.

The municipality, Dumezweni or Faxi were jointly and severally ordered to pay the costs of the application.