13 November 2017 Read: 107
The life threatening problem of livestock on the province’s roads was allegedly addressed four years ago by the, then Provincial Roads and Transport MEC Lehlogonolo Masoga. During that time he committed himself to meet with livestock owners, traditional healers and community members to address the issue. This came after the deaths of soccer coach Thomas 'Chincha Guluva' Madigage and soccer legend Lesley Manyathela who both died in accidents on the province’s roads after trying to avoid livestock crossing in the middle of the night.
Four years later and still nothing has been done to insure the safety of road users on the R71 or R36 roads leading out of Tzaneen. Just last week another motorist lost his life near Ofcolaco because of cattle in the roads. “This is a massive concern for us as we deal with deaths and serious accidents as a result of stray animals on a weekly basis, but our complaints coupled with the rising death toll, fall on deaf ears,” said Ofcolaco CPF Chairperson, Willie Smit. “At night it is impossible to see these animals ahead of you when driving, until you are a few metres away. Motorists slam on breaks and leave the road or crash into the animal often killing it and writing off their vehicle. Many people have suffered serious injuries or worse. We need this to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”
According to the local rural cattle owners however, fencing in their cattle or donkeys, is not a viable solution. “They have told us that it is better for them to leave their herds roaming next to the roads where they risk the chance of losing one animal to a motor vehicle accident, than fencing the animals in where poachers come and slaughter the entire herd to sell the meat illegally in the villages.”
In September last year a herd of cattle was causing havoc in Letsitele. The owner of the cattle was reported to the GTM who in turn stated that should the owner not control his cattle, the animals would be confiscated. Where will they be confiscated to, we wondered? And a “warning” on what legal grounds?
Stock-farmers complain that fences along public roads are increasingly wilfully removed, damaged or destroyed, resulting in animals straying into the roads and causing accidents. The laws around fencing has led to much confusion and legal uncertainty – particularly in rural areas – in respect of liability regarding broken fences.
South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) do daily route maintenance. Their maintenance teams have erected fences all the way from The Oakes near Hoedspruit through Ofcolaco to the Letsitele crossing in a bid to prevent these stray animals crossing into the roadways. At various intersections they erected proper gates to assist the cattle herders who need to take their herd to pastures across the road, without having to damage the fence, safely.
Despite these measures which costs SANRAL millions annually, the herders continue to cut through the fence rather than make use of the gates. This continuous vandalism means that SANRAL needs to spend precious man hours mending the fences daily to ensure the safety of their road users.
Because SANRAL does not have a law enforcement arm, they rely on the provincial and municipal law enforcers to prosecute the vandals. This is not done as the blame is shifted back and forth between agencies and problem persists.
Bulletin has received information of a planned action by the department of transport, the department of agriculture and the provincial SAPS to put into place a system to curb the pandemic. We have not managed to contact the spokesperson for SANRAL or the Limpopo Department of Transport.