Cattle battle continues

Following a court order, Ndlambe Municipality has established a permit system for commonage grazing and keeping animals in residential areas, but it has not yet published or posted information about this for the public.

In November, the municipality, municipal manager Rolly Dumezweni and mayor Khululwa Ncamiso in their official and personal capacities, were ordered by the high court in Makhanda to address a litany of issues involving the management of its commonages and stray animals in residential areas, within certain deadlines.

It was the latest court order against the municipality obtained by Agri EC and the Alexandria Agricultural Association, 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.

Several parts of the order had to be implemented by the municipality within three months of the order, including: 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; 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; an animal traceability system; and to start collecting tariffs in accordance with the tariff system for keeping authorised animals.

A deadline which has already passed – it had to be met within 60 days – is that the municipality had to implement a system to reimburse private citizens who have incurred costs as a result of animals which had to be impounded.

Agri EC CEO Brent McNamara forwarded an “urgent notice” from the municipality to TotT and asked if the municipality had sent it to the newspaper. The municipality has not done so.

The urgent notice is to inform residents of the newly implemented commonage grazing permit and keeping of animals in residential areas permits.

The municipal notice states that the permit system came into effect on February 7, in order to comply with the court order granted on November 5.

Given the strict timelines imposed by the court, it seems strange that two weeks after making decisions nothing is in the public domain yet

“All livestock owners will be expected to attend the Ndlambe municipal offices situated at Alexandria, Kenton-on-Sea, Port Alfred and Bathurst finance offices and obtain a copy of the application form,” the notices states.

Thereafter the municipality will give livestock owners three months to submit an application for a permit, and will impound all animals for which there are no permits.

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Owners whose livestock is impounded will have 48 hours to complete an application form, pay the relevant pound fees and arrange for collection of their livestock. If owners fail to comply, the municipality said it would be “forced” to sell the animals by public auction.

McNamara said the urgent municipal notice was not dated, nor signed. “It has not been published, nor is it on any municipal notice board or on their website. Not sure how livestock owners are supposed to know about it,” he said.

“The forms are also not available on the website, and as of Friday last week were not available at any of the municipal offices. Given the strict timelines imposed by the court, it seems strange that two weeks after making decisions nothing is in the public domain yet.”

McNamara said he had prepared a contempt of court application as the municipality had missed deadlines, but then the municipality submitted their commonage management policy, tariff list and other documents before Agri EC could file their application.

“They have still not adopted a policy to reimburse individuals for animals delivered to the pound in terms of paragraph 10 of the judgment,” he said.

“They have now effectively two months to implement all of this practically. In terms of the judgment, they are required to start impounding unauthorised animals in May. This is when the ‘takkie needs to hit the tar’.

“We will be monitoring closely and will file a contempt application and seek imprisonment of officials for non-compliance.”

Municipal spokesperson Cecil Mbolekwa has not replied to TotT’s queries.

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