Butcheries sell diseased meat

25 Feb, 2022 - 00:02 0 Views
Butcheries sell diseased meat Some farmers are selling their infected cattle to butchers

The ManicaPost


Samuel Kadungure
Senior Reporter

Unscrupulous butcheries in Mutare and Odzi are circumventing health protocols to make a quick buck by buying and slaughtering cattle infected with suspected theileriosis — the tick-borne disease popularly known as January disease — and selling the meat at the expense of public health, The Manica Post has established.

Hundreds of cattle are succumbing to a recent outbreak of the deadly disease, resulting in some farmers selling their infected cattle to butchers.

Authorities say since January 2021, theileriosis has killed at least 2 173 cattle worth about US$1 million, with Mutare District being the latest epicentre of the tick-borne disease.

Makoni, Buhera and Mutasa have also been affected.

Communal areas in the province account for 632 804 cattle, with the 2 173 deaths translating to 0.34 percent of the province’s herd.

The deaths could be way higher as most cattle deaths are concealed as most farmers do not want to destroy the carcases.

The police, veterinary and health experts in Manicaland are now investigating the matter after being tipped-off by The Manica Post.

A dragnet team involving the police and veterinary officers this Tuesday descended on Chikundu Village in the Mapembe area of Odzi where some butcheries are stampeding to buy the diseased cattle to establish the culprits behind the scandal.

Authorities have since ordered all butcheries to stop the practise.

It is illegal and unethical for butcheries to slaughter diseased animals and sale the meat to the public.

Cattle whose meat is meant for commercial purposes must also be slaughtered at a registered abattoir where compulsory meat inspection is done.

However, investigations conducted by The Manica Post revealed that all these protocols are not being followed as affected livestock farmers rush to offload their sick cattle to butcheries.

One of the affected villagers, Mr Shupikai Mvurumutiya, told this publication that January disease has turned out to be the biggest problem for farmers in Odzi.

He said farmers are selling their sick cattle for a maximum of US$50.

All things being equal, the average market price for a bull is US$300.

Mr Mvurumutiya said the disease has seen them accruing huge losses as they either helplessly watch their cattle die or panic into selling the sick ones for a song.

“We have recorded unprecedented cattle deaths in our village over the last two weeks, and this weekend alone we recorded 20 deaths. The prospect of having the entire herd wiped out by the disease is scary,” he said.

“As a result, butcheries from Odzi and Mutare have deployed runners in the village to buy and slaughter all the sick cattle for sale.

‘‘If they pay you US$50 for one beast, you can consider yourself lucky. It is an opportunity for them to make money and the farmers have no other option but to sell all the sick cattle. We can’t just watch them die,” said Mr Mvurumutiya.

The cattle sales and subsequent mass slaughters are being done without the mandatory permits from veterinary authorities and clearance from the police.

Manicaland Provincial Veterinary Officer, Dr Charles Guri said meat produced without veterinary inspection is often contaminated and must be considered a hazard to human health.

“The need for meat inspection in relation to public health cannot be over-estimated.

“It involves examination of animals in order to determine the fitness of the meat for human consumption.

“These control measures seek to control meat-borne diseases and protect the consumer from eating inferior quality meat or meat that would have been un-hygienically slaughtered and handled,” he said.

He said it is unlawful to slaughter cattle under unhygienic conditions, without police clearance, as well as inspection and certification by health authorities.


“It is illegal to sell meat that has not been examined and certified. The Department of Veterinary Services and the police do not clear any sick cattle for either selling or slaughtering.

“The slaughtering of sick cattle for commercial purposes is illegal. Such meat should not be sold to the public. We have deployed our officers together with the police in the Mapembe area to get to the bottom of this scandal.

“It has come to our attention that certain butcheries had deployed some runners in the affected villages to convince farmers to sell all their sick cattle for a song. The cattle are being slaughtered without the required permits and clearance from the police, meaning they are breaking the law and must be brought to book,” said Dr Guri.

A video clip recorded during one of the mass slaughters in Village R show some men skinning 10 beasts under a huge tree.

The men were allegedly being led by one Bangazhani and Gumisi who immediately vanished from the scene after getting wind of the visit by the police.

The slaughtering had taken place under the tree where the cattle were hoisted for skinning.

The meat was not inspected by a certified meat inspector who under normal circumstances should either condemn it or stamp it to indicate its fitness for human consumption.

From the tree, the meat was loaded into Mutare and Odzi bound trucks before being covered with a black plastic sheet.

What remains a mystery is how the trucks passed through police roadblocks without the requisite paperwork on their way to the butcheries dotted across Odzi and Mutare.

Acting Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Wiseman Chinyoka said police investigations are ongoing.

“Police clearance helps to establish if that particular beast would not have been stolen or whether it will be in dispute or not,” said Assistant Inspector Chinyoka.


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