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‘Our animals are impounded and left to die’

Some residents of areas on the outskirts of Eenhana in the Ohangwena region are accusing the town council of impounding their roaming animals and leaving them to die.

The town council several years ago started impounding animals, goats, cattle and donkeys that freely roam the streets of Eenhana in search of food.

The animals are then taken to a kraal on the outskirts of the town at Edimba village, and their owners are expected to fetch them at a fee and ensure their animals do not roam the streets again. The animals of those who do not pay the fee to retrieve their animals are kept at the kraal until such time they pay up.

This, residents say, has led to some animals dying of hunger.

“The people from the town council are causing us headaches and causing our families to starve because they just drive off our animals, take them to the town council kraal and do not provide fodder to feed the impounded animals.

“The animals die of starvation,” Shuudeni Eliphas of Omhito says.

Communal farmer Sheyavali Paulus says: “Sometimes you do not even know your animals have been impounded – you only realise it days or weeks later.

“They should at least feed the animals until they are retrieved by their owners. Those animals are our livelihood. Yes, sometimes we let them freely graze out there because it’s dry, there’s no grass.”

Eenhana Town Council spokesperson Paul Shilongo says the council is operating in line with Section 94 of the Local Authorities Act by impounding animals found trespassing or straying in town.

“Animals are not allowed in urban areas because they damage the properties of town residents, and [their presence is] in conflict with the peace and stability of the inhabitants in so many ways.

“So, all livestock found straying around the town are impounded and taken care of at the council kraal at Edimba. That location was identified in consultation with the traders and leaders of villages surrounding the town, since they are the most affected,” he says. Shilongo refutes allegations that the council leaves animals to die at the kraal.

“Impounded animals are given water and are fed with all their descriptions recorded. We also have a 24 hour security guard at the place.

“Since inception we have only had one donkey and two goats that died there, but after that no animal deaths been recorded – whether due to hunger or otherwise – and those that died have been detected to have had health issues, according to veterinary investigations,” he says.

Shilongo says on average impounded animals would usually just spend two to three days at the kraal before being collected or claimed by their rightful owners.

“It is also worth noting that the council is not obliged to compensate owners for any animals dying while impounded, however, property owners have the right to claim damages from animal owners through the council for damage to their properties.

“We therefore would like to inform all residents of villages surrounding Eenhana to ensure their animals are kept away from the town, and to visit the council kraal whenever their animals are missing, and to collect their animals urgently once found impounded to avoid excessive payment,” he says.

The penalty fee for impounded animals, such as cattle, pigs and donkeys is N$19,25 per day, and N$14,20 per day for goats, sheep and chickens. This money is used to pay those tasked with gathering the animals and herding them to the kraal, as well as for security services, food, water and the detention of the animals.