Last week’s shooting of roaming cattle on a farm in Uitenhage highlights yet again, the urgent need for a government strategy to find commonage land, particularly for the benefit of smallscale farmers in Nelson Mandela Bay.
On Thursday, 11 cattle were shot, eight of them killed, and found piled up on a Kruisrivier farmer’s property.
The other three cows were wounded, and one had to be euthanised by the SPCA.
The incident, which is under police investigation, has rightfully sparked outrage in the nearby Kwa-Nobuhle community from where the cattle owners come.
Regardless of the circumstances around the matter, we must all agree that the senseless shooting of cattle is a despicable act.
It is cruel, inhumane and has devastating financial implications for the owners of the cattle.
In this regard, the police must ensure that their investigation is completed as soon as possible and that those responsible for this crime face the full might of the law.
Moreover, this incident should prompt local and provincial authorities to act swiftly to find solutions to the ongoing land crisis in this city.
It is common cause that there is a shortage of land, a situation which places enormous pressure on smallscale, urban farmers, who have nowhere for their livestock to graze.
Acknowledging the crisis in March, mayor Athol Trollip said: “We are dealing with public health issues with livestock in urban areas [and] we’re dealing with public safety issues with livestock roaming on our roads.”
He said small pockets of land had been offered to the city by landowners, but they were requesting hefty prices.
This is unfortunate and is indicative of the broader, historic land issue which defines the social and economic landscape of South Africa.
The situation demands of the metro to work harder to negotiate workable deals that will ultimately ensure that commonages are found for those who need them.
It is equally incumbent on Agrarian Reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane to bolster the metro’s efforts in this regard.
This is as necessary for economic growth and transformation as it is for social cohesion.