Photo of goats unattended in St Francis Drive, St Francis Bay – Lindsey Groom
By Bev Mortimer
Thousands of Rands worth of damage have been made to vehicles in Kouga from stray animals suddenly walking onto the main roads.
There have been more than a dozen accidents caused by roaming animals in St Francis alone over the past month – but worse at Ocean View , Jeffreys Bay, now nicknamed the ‘death belt’, there is almost one vehicle-animal collision a day – from goats to pigs, cows, calves, donkeys and sheep, to stray dogs and cats, hens, chickens and roosters.
Even kids and pedestrians are causing collisions or near misses and accidents when motorists swerve. In Ocean View a man narrowly missed serious injury, but his car was a write-off, when a child, playing the game ‘chicken’, purposefully jumped in front of his car. He swerved and landed in a ditch.
The most dangerous points where there are always stray animals are in the vicinity of the SPCA Humansdorp along the R330; along the Sea-Vista to Cape St Francis stretch; the area along Ocean View on the road to Marina Martinique in Jeffreys Bay and the upper end of Tarragona Road, Sea Vista. There
In Ocean View area, a child was knocked down earlier this year and had to go to hospital.. there have also been near misses of pedestrians and other kids there and in Tarragona Road.
Residents are taking to FB to voice their annoyance and frustration over the increasing problem. Comments like “We are not living in the Transkei!” – from a Jbay man residentcomplain about the cost of damages, example- R94 000 for two bakkies, R35 000 for the back fender and light, to R38000 for the crumpled front of a small car.
Some residents in Kouga say their small vehicles, which are about 2008–2011 models, were write-offs in recent collisions with stray animals. The pay-out from insurance is so small and the owners are unable to purchase new cars for cash.
Their only option is to buy a vehicle on hp with the small cash de[psot and pay big monthly instalments with insurance costs monthly – and this they cannot afford. Some motorists have consequently been left car-less.
Kouga Municipality, it appears, does not currently have the means to regularly and frequently inspect roads nor to load up and confiscate animals until owners pay fines for their release – in spite of a 2013 press release that indicated all stray animals would be impounded and owners of straying animals would be fined.
Many cars are write-offs and even though motorists may have insurance, the excess and monthly premiums are likely to be high.
Asked to comment, the municipality says it has a temporary pound at the premises of its Fire Department. “However, we do not have vehicles at present to transport stray animals to the pound,” the statement from the municpality read. “Consequently, the focus currently is on encouraging livestock owners to take responsibility for their animals. The municipality has been meeting with communities to raise awareness of the problems caused by roaming animals and to encourage livestock owners to put in place measures to control their animals.
“For example, some livestock owners in Humansdorp have started making use of herders, which have proven to be effective,” the municipality said.
A press release in 2013 said the municipality was clamping down on stray animals. Former mayor, Booi Koerat, said 69 cattle had been impounded by Kouga law enforcement officers and the SAPS Stock Theft Unit during clean-up operations at Humansdorp and Jeffreys Bay at the end of July 2013. “The aim is to encourage livestock owners to take responsibility for their animals,” Koerat said.
He said the municipality had opened a cattle pound at the premises of the Kouga Fire Department at Humansdorp.
In the past a privately-owned pound was used. The Kouga Council was not satisfied with the manner in which impoundments were being handled, consequently, alternative measures were explored.
“Our ultimate goal is to establish a fully-fledged pound at the SPCA,” he said. “The municipal administration is already in discussion with the association. In the meantime, we are making use of the holding pen at the Fire Department.”
Koerat said numerous complaints had been received from residents about the safety hazard posed by stray livestock on the roads.
“Residents also expressed health concerns and, in some instances, animals were destroying gardens. Tough action was clearly needed, combined with a drive to empower livestock owners to take responsibility. It is for this reason that we have been working closely with the Stock Theft Unit and farmer’s organisations.”
Koerat commended livestock owners that had already put measures in place to ensure their animals did not cause problems.
“Not everyone can afford, for example, to hire a herdsman. What we have seen, is livestock owners clubbing together to hire a herdsman for their combined stock. It is good to see such initiative.”
Livestock owners are reminded that they need to register with the Stock Theft Unit and brand their animals as prescribed by law.
“We would like to encourage livestock owners to contact the Stock Theft Unit or Department of Agriculture to find out exactly what is expected of them. The law is there to protect them, as livestock owners, and to ensure other residents are not inconvenienced,” Koerat said.
The following fees are payable by livestock owners whose animals are impounded: R217 per owner per animal (once off fee); R106 per animal per day (food, care, etc); R32 per kilometre (transport); R217 per owner for animals trespassing.
Livestock owners can also be fined by the Stock Theft Unit for animals that are not branded as per the legislative requirements.
Ward councillors have also been helping to raise awareness and address this matter in their communities.