Animal lovers across the country are up in arms about Transnet’s plan to “get rid of” stray cats at their engineering workshops.
A directive sent out nationally by Transnet on February 13 said the national ports authority was to enforce the prohibition of stray animals on premises, claiming that they were a hazard and a nuisance.
Employees were instructed not to feed and nurture animals on Transnet property and were warned that failing to comply would result in “employee relations interventions”.
Cat Care Port Elizabeth vicechairwoman Emma White said the organisation was aware of the directive and that such interventions by Transnet could be to the parastatal’s detriment.
“[To remove them] doesn’t actually work. If you remove [stray and feral cats] new ones come in,” she said.
White said populations of feral cats, if kept under control, would be beneficial in containing rats, mice and other vermin.
“They [ports] are not manufacturing food or pharmaceuticals which could be contaminated,” she said.
Most feral and stray cat populations were well looked after, especially in harbours, she said.
White warned against using poisons as a means of removing cat colonies because of the far-reaching effects on bird life.
“The whole thing is to sterilise and manage [stray and feral cats] to try to get them under control,” she said.
According to White, euthanasia would not help as another colony would form.
White said Cat Care offered sterilisation services to combat the proliferation of feral cats “which would ensure a safe, humane way of dealing with the cats” as the colony would then die out naturally.
“We have had three colonies at NMMU which died out naturally after sterilisation,” she said.
Transnet Engineering spokeswoman Zodwa Mashishi said the directive was merely aimed at stopping employees from feeding and nurturing the cats at operational facilities.
“Over the years, we have seen an increase in the number of stray animals entering our premises, including workshops where there is heavy-duty machinery.”
She said the presence of the cats in such a high-risk environment posed a health and safety hazard for both the employees and the animals.
Zodwa said they had advised employees to rather direct the animals to animal protection organisations.