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Livestock measles blamed on toxic dumping site

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CONCERNED: Legodimo

Disgruntled farmers in Segakwana lands near Modipane village’s Dikwididi dumping site, are crying foul and have blamed the Kgatleng District Council for their ailing livestock.

The farmers whose cattle are often condemned at the abattoir due to measles, are blaming the council’s dumping site for the spread of the disease.

Their contention is that the dumping site, located within their grazing land, has contaminated the area with plastics, baby diapers and all sorts of non-digestive refuse which are a health hazard to their livestock.

“Our cattle are at high risk of disease because of rubbish from the overflowing dumping site. Dogs sneak into the fenced dump and carry soiled diapers into the bush and leave them there. Further some vehicles never reach the dumping site, they dump the litter anywhere within the grazing land,” explained a discontented Kabelo Legodimo.

The 69 year old Legodimo is one of the farmers whose cattle were recently condemned with measles at the abattoir in Mochudi and is disgruntled at the council’s refusal to shut down the dumping site.

“Farming is our only livelihood and the council is impoverishing us. When my cattle were found with measles, I was given much less for their carcasses and the payout gets very delayed as a result. Mind you, when I decided to sell them, it was because of a desperate need which I wanted to address at that time, but instead of getting P5000 or so for a cow, I ended up getting less than half of that amount and I had to wait for more than two weeks for that matter. We want to sell to Botswana Meat Commission and gain from it as well,” Legodimo further stated.

Often carcasses from Segakwana grazing area are condemned due to beef measles caused by poor sanitation, according to one of the village headmen, Lebeko Mokalake.

The Headman of Arbitration said the dumping site which was built about 20 years ago was constructed without any environment impact assessment and has since become an eyesore to the Kgatleng community.

“There was no proper consultation when the dumping site was built. We were totally against it. They may have fenced it, but fencing does not stop rain water to wash away all the poison and dirt from the dumping site to the pasture. The pit is overflowing and is posing serious danger to our livestock,” Mokalake pointed out.

Yet another farmer, Mosala Sebolai, 45, expressed concern at the skip which he says needs to be closed down as a matter of urgency.

“The important thing that needs to be considered is the safety of beef. The carcasses may be diagnosed with measles at the abattoir, but what about those killed at home for ceremonies such as weddings, funerals and others? Of course they are not tested and this becomes a public health concern. The pit is not located in the right place and needs to be closed,” lamented Sebolai.

Meanwhile the Kgatleng District Council says it is not aware of who was consulted when the dumping site was constructed as the site spans over twenty years.

“We are not aware of any human waste being disposed of outside the dumping site. What we know is that the fenced site receives general waste and that it is manned by a 24 hour security guard. What we are also aware of is that the operational cell is full and we are currently in the process of securing the bulldozer to compact the waste and push into the cell,” explained the Council Public Relation’s Officer, Thato Chwaane.

Chwaane further stated that a proper environment impact assessment and feasibility study was not done because the site in question is not a landfill, but rather a dumping site.

Statistics could not be obtained from local abattoirs but, Dr Ramosamo Rancheke from Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) had last month, indicated that measles creates a loss for both BMC and farmers.

The contention was that farmers only receive P150 for cattle worth thousands of Pula if found with measles while the BMC made losses.

According to him, over 1 500 cattle brought to BMC in 2016 were found to be affected by measles and 51 of those were condemned.

In 2017, about 176 were affected while 23 were condemned.