Residents of the Eastern Cape town of Komga could soon face the long arm of the law if their livestock and pets are found outside of their residential areas. This, after two agricultural organisations obtained a court order compelling the Great Kei Local Municipality to control roaming animals.
Agri Eastern Cape and the Komga Farmers’ Association says there has been a dramatic increase in Komga residents who allow their animals to roam the streets, sidewalks, private gardens and even farms.
Komga lies in the Amathole district, and is about 60km outside both Qonce (King William’s Town) and East London. Many of this town’s residents also keep their unmarked livestock on municipal land without any livestock control measures, creating health and safety risks for residents.
Municipal bylaws to be enforced
With the court order, the Great Kei executive mayor and municipal manager and officials have to put procedures in place to enforce bylaws with regards to the keeping of animals within the residential areas.
According to Agri Eastern Cape the lack of procedures has also opened the door for criminal activity. Stolen animals are hidden amongst other unidentified and unmarked animals on the commonage.
“Repeated requests to the municipality to address this problem over many years resulted in very little action being taken.
“Unfortunately, organised agriculture was left with no option but to approach the courts to remedy this situation,” says Doug Stern, president of Agri Eastern Cape.
“Farmers surrounding these towns suffer huge losses as a result of uncontrolled dog packs and dogs being bred and kept within these residential areas being used for illegal hunting. The dangers posed by stray cattle and other domesticated animals kept in an uncontrolled manner within residential areas are self-evident.”
‘With ownership comes responsibility’
However, Agri Eastern Cape reiterates that it is not opposed to animal ownership per se, but rather roaming animals or strays. Instead, they want the keeping of animals within residential areas to be regulated by municipal bylaws which need to be enforced in the interest of all residents.
The Great Kei’s municipal manager and mayor were requested to file a report before 30 April 2021 detailing the steps taken to comply with the provisions of the court order.
“With livestock ownership comes the responsibility of ensuring that animals are kept in a manner, so as not to create a danger or nuisance to others,” says Stern.
“Agri Eastern Cape hopes that with this court order as a basis for negotiations, its affiliated associations will be in a position to engage with their respective municipalities to ensure similar rectification plans are embarked upon, to solve similar problems in their respective areas without further unnecessary legal action.”