No respite from stray cattle as another collision occurs

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GK CRONJE

26 July 2022

The injured animal caused extensive damaged to the bewildered driver.

Over the course of several years, cattle owners have systematically circumvented the by-laws of Msukaligwa Local Municipality (MLM) with regards to the care, control and branding of cattle and other stray animals. These individuals have also taken advantage of MLM’s lax attitude and have erected pens and makeshift shelters for farm animals in several wards. Despite the municipality’s by-laws stating that no person may keep farm animals in an enclosure or stable within 15 meters of any boundary of any land, dwelling, building or any structure used for human habitation, or 50 meters of any water resource or water supply intended or used for human consumption, transgressors live their best lives without consequence.

The unenforced by-laws are wholly ignored, creating a vicious cycle of frustration, property damage and danger for motorists and residents. Various residents have reported that their dogs get uncontrollably riled up by stray livestock roaming the residential wards, most notably in the De Bruin Park area. Although it is mandated by the Animal Identification Act, Act 6 of 2000, a large percentage of the stray animals roaming the CBD, roadways, wards and surrounding areas are unmarked and unbranded. The fact that there are no longer pounding services offered by local companies makes life extremely difficult for residents and road users alike. Stray animals and cattle impede the flow of traffic, and have been the cause of many an accident in the vicinity of Ermelo. In rare cases, a cattle herder can be seen lazily coaxing the animals through residential areas, but in the majority of instances these animals are left to their own devices. The inherent danger of stray cattle is especially notable on the N11 Ermelo-Hendrina road, where several serious collisions have been caused by these nuisance strays.

These animals are also becoming a nuisance on the N17 and N2, where several instances of collisions with stray cattle have been reported. Due to the municipalitys complete and utter disregard of by-law enforcement, stray cattle issues are expanding deeper into the residential wards, and have also become a nuisance in the CBD, where these animal blindly lumber over busy roadways, oblivious to traffic. In addition to this, stray cattle and animals within wards demolish gardens, tear open refuse bags and unnecessarily rile up neighborhood dogs. On previous occasions, MLM stated that residents should contact the call centre to report such incidents. However, the complete inefficiency of the call centre, coupled with the complete lack of response from municipal departments have made this statement all but redundant. Although the municipal by-laws grants the municipality the power to rapidly fill their coffers by impounding and selling stray animals if they are not collected by their owners, the motivation seems to be lacking for unknown reasons.

Despite several previous enquiries, MLM have, to date, failed to step up with a response and solution. The stray livestock have become so used to residential traffic and scolds from angry residents, that not even car horns spook these cattle when they loaf about the streets. Unfortunately, in Ermelo, a blind eye is turned to the issue, which have, and will again, result in a loss of life as motorists collide with these stray animals. A prime example of this is a motorist who collided with a stray animal in Church Street on Saturday, 23 July 2022. The injured animal caused extensive damaged to the bewildered driver.

The animal was also the cause of another near-miss, as it bucked into oncoming traffic in shock. Luckily, the oncoming vehicle managed to avoid colliding with the animal. On the accident scene, a group of stray cattle could be noted grazing on the sidewalk, with their owner being blissfully unaware of the danger and damage these animals caused.