Game farmers in the Eastern Cape are now strictly forbidden to process game meat outside of an abattoir. This was confirmed in a no-nonsense letter from the provincial department rural development and agrarian reform.
The ban comes after government discovered that some farmers were dressing game meat for human as well as animal consumption outside of abattoirs. Those that do not adhere to the ban will face prosecution.
Dr Vusi Rozani, director of export control and veterinary public health in the Eastern Cape, reminded game farmers that section 7 of the meat safety act already prohibits the slaughtering of animals in any place other than abattoirs.
“Anyone who slaughters any animal, permits [the] slaughter of any animal at any place under his or her control, sells or provides meat for human and animal consumption is contravening the law, unless the place is an abattoir,” said Rozani.
Hunting industry upset
While the ban seeks to ensure that game meat is safe for human consumption, those in the game industry are, however, fuming. Some argue that the ban on game meat processing could kill their industry.
According to Retief Odendaal, a DA member of parliament, the move has the potential of bringing the hunting industry in the Eastern Cape to a complete standstill.
This, he claims “would be a massive blow to the province’s already frail economy and could result in massive job losses.”
In the letter, Rozani furthermore references further sections of the act which states that meat must be inspected by a qualified person before it is slaughtered.
“This means that during game culling or harvesting, there must be a qualified person who inspects that animal before it is shot, if that meat is to qualify for human and animal consumption.”
However, given the free-range nature in which game meat is hunted, it is impossible to have each animal inspected before it will be shot, argues Odendaal.
“The correspondence has highlighted a legal absurdity that has either been created by the act, or alternatively, through the interpretation of the act by Dr Rozani.”
The road ahead
Odendaal says ethical hunting remains a recognised aspect of the Mzansi economy. He describes it as an accepted component of our shared culture.
“I have written to Nonkqubela Pieters, the MEC for rural development and agrarian reform, and the head of the department, Bongikhaya Dayimani, to request an urgent meeting to discuss the correspondence as well as ways and means to support the game and hunting industry in the Eastern Cape.”
Among others, representatives from the department, the hunting industry, organised agriculture and the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation are expected to attend the meeting.