A COURT order against the Ndlambe Municipality, the municipal manager and executive mayor compelling the local authority to put in place procedures to enforce bylaws with regards fo the keeping of animals within residential areas and on its commanges and open spaces, may have implications for other municipalities.
The court order was obtained by Agri Eastern Cape on Tuesday following, according to the structure, “the current uncontrolled influx of animals into residential areas and commonages which has resulted in significant animal diseases transmission risk to neighbouring commercial farms. Furthermore, the risks posed by stray animals to motorists and private property are obvious.”
In a statement this week, Agri Eastern Cape indicated that repeated requests to the Municipality to addressthe problem over many years resulted in very little action being taken, resulting in organized agriculture being left with no option but to approach the
“It must be re-iterated that Agri Eastern Cape is not opposed to animal ownership
by residents. We are aware that the ownership of animals by some residents is
important for economic, and cultural reasons, but that de-pasturing of animals
on the commonages, and the keeping of animals within residential areas is
regulated by municipal Bylaws which need to be enforced in the interest of all
the residents of the municipality.”
With livestock ownership, Agri Eastern Cape said, came the responsibility of ensuring that animals were kept in a manner, so as not to create a danger or nuisance to others. “The unregulated de-pasturing of animals on the municipal commonages has led to
severe overgrazing, and the general degradation of these valuable resources,
and has led to unsustainable agricultural practises.”
The municipality had, after the filing of papers, conceded that they did in fact have
an obligation to enforce the bylaws and relevant national legislation and willingly entered into negotiations with the Applicants to speedily find an acceptable solution to the problem, without entering into a lengthy court battle, Agri Eastern Cape indicated.
A proposed rectification plan has since been tabled by Ndlambe, which saved both time and legal costs.
“Many of the steps outlined in our original Notice of Motion were circumvented due to the municipality’s positive approach to the application. The willingness by the Municipality to finally accept their responsibility for bylaw enforcement without wasting funds on unnecessary litigation must be seen in a positive light.”
The establishment of an ownership register required in terms of the order, would establish which the cattle owners have significant numbers of animals, and who
should be assisted by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
“These farmers must be considered for, and have access to farms purchased by
the government for land reform purposes. These farmers must be commended,
and assisted to become commercial farmers in their own right, something that
will never happen while they are trying to farm on degraded commonages, and
within residential areas.”
Agri Eastern Cape indicated that it hoped other municipalities would put in place similar rectification plans to solve problems in their respective areas.