Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Gwanda Correspondent
THE Matabeleland South Veterinary Services Department has shot and burnt 18 beasts belonging to a Beitbridge farmer as part of efforts to contain a foot and mouth outbreak that was recently recorded in the area.
In an interview the provincial veterinary officer, Dr Enart Mdlongwa said they were forced to shoot and burn the animals after their owner illegally moved them from an infected place to a safe place.
He said investigations were still underway as there were more suspected cases.
“We recorded a foot and mouth outbreak in Beitbridge end of August. Nine animals were found with clinical signs of foot and mouth. The cases were recorded at Penemene and Jogo dip tanks and we moved to quarantine the places, re-vaccinated surrounding dip tanks and banned movement of cattle in order to contain the disease and stop it from spreading to other areas.
“However, a farmer used a police clearance and moved 18 heifers from an infected area to Zhobe Farm which was a clean area. We received a report about this illegal act and made a follow up and we found the animals.
We acquired a destruction order and we shot and burnt the 18 cattle last week on Sunday in order to avoid further infections which is in line with the Animals Act Chapter 19:01 Section 7 (2 and 3). The owner of the cattle was also served with a disposal order. We fear that these cattle that were moved could have infected others and at the moment we are conducting investigations,” he said.
Dr Mdlongwa said they had since quarantined Zhobe Farm and are waiting for results of the blood samples of the animals that were destroyed.
He raised a concern over cases of illegal movement of cattle which were rampant in the province.
He said for all movements of cattle, one should have a veterinary animal movement permit and a police clearance.
Dr Mdlongwa urged farmers to adhere to the requirements as they were meant to protect their animals.
“The procedure is that for any movement of cattle one should have an animal movement permit and a police clearance. As the Department of Veterinary Services we are the custodians of the animals and we issue these permits knowing when and if it’s safe for cattle to be moved or which areas are infected.
“The police clearance serves to confirm whether the cattle intending to be moved are stolen or not. However, some farmers just obtain the police clearance and use it to move their cattle which is illegal. We urge farmers to obtain a movement permit before the police clearance because it ends up defeating our cause of fighting the spread of diseases,” he said.
Dr Mdlongwa said they have tried to engage the police over the matter to ensure people are not given a police clearance if they don’t have an animal movement permit but without luck.