Court order on cattle

Ndlambe Municipality again given deadlines to address issues

Another high court judgment has been handed down on the issue of stray cattle on Ndlambe’s roads and the municipality’s mismanagement of its commonages.

Three years after obtaining a court order against the municipality, and five years after litigation began, Agri EC and the Alexandria Agricultural Association returned to court, along with four farmers who have been personally affected by issues of commonage mismanagement, broken fences, stock theft, and straying and diseased cattle on their land.

The four farmers are Brent McNamara, Ignatius Muller, Elizabeth Klopper and Koos van Rooyen.

In addition to the municipality, municipal manager Rolly Dumezweni and mayor Khululwa Ncamiso were listed as respondents in their official positions and their personal capacity.

PERMITS AND CONTROL: Ndlambe Municipality has again been ordered by the high court in Makhanda to address the stray cattle issue Picture: JON HOUZET

In a judgment handed down earlier this month, Acting Justice Avinash Govindjee gave strict deadlines to the respondents to address various issues.

He ordered the respondents to implement an application procedure in terms of the municipality’s prevention of public nuisance and keeping of animals bylaws, for anyone who wants to keep animals within the municipality’s residential areas, public spaces or commonages. This has to be done within three months of the order.

Furthermore, the permit application procedure must ensure that permits are only issued in circumstances where all relevant legislative provisions are adhered to, including the Animal Identification Act, the Animal Diseases Act, and the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act.

Also within three months, the municipality and its co-respondents have to implement an animal traceability system, which includes a tamper-evident method of marking authorised animals; immediate verification of animal ownership; records of ownership; record of health status of animals; a tariff system applicable to authorised keeping of animals; a procedure to remove animals that have died, been sold or disposed of from the traceability system; and a procedure to re-allocate animal authorisation identification.

Within six months, the respondents must report on the implementation of a management plan in respect of each commonage under the municipality’s control. The plan must include a commonage carrying capacity review programme and over-grazing prevention plans.

By February 28, the respondents have to provide a report on a maintenance programme regarding inspecting, maintaining, repairing or replacing infrastructure on the said commonages, including fencing, gates, livestock watering points, animal handling, dipping facilities, tagging facilities and cattle races.

The respondents also have to implement a plan to ensure that annual inspections are held to determine the health status of animals, particularly in regard to the notifiable diseases referred to in the Animal Diseases Act. There is a six-month deadline in which to do this, and the respondents also have to keep a register of the inspections and outcomes.

Within five months, the respondents have to ensure that all animals kept within commonages, public spaces and residential areas, which are not authorised in terms of its permit system are impounded in phases to accommodate the holding capacity of the municipal pound.

No animals that have been impounded may be released until they have been authorised by the permit system.

Within three months, the municipality has to start collecting tariffs in accordance with the tariff system for keeping authorised animals.

Within 60 days, the respondents must implement a system to reimburse private citizens who have incurred costs as a result of animals which had to be impounded.

The respondents also have to file reports in the form of sworn statements on progress made within seven months, and the applicants have the right of response within 30 days of such reports.

The municipality, municipal manager and mayor were ordered to pay costs, with one paying and the other absolved.

Agri EC welcomed the court’s decision, saying stray animals in rural towns and on rural roads had increased exponentially in recent years.

The DA also issued a statement, saying it would monitor the implementation of the court order, with specific focus on the rollout of a permit and tariff system for any person seeking to keep livestock on commonages, public spaces and state-owned farms.

“We will request a full inventory of livestock on these farms and an investigation of the officials, councillors and other high-earning individuals, who own the cattle roaming in our streets. Abusing the privilege of the use of these farms is to the detriment of indigent people, for whom the commonages are meant to provide,” incoming DA councillor Nadine Haynes said.

High court again orders Ndlambe to sort out cattle and commonages

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