Baa goes the neigh­bour­hood

Sheep and goats kept in posh sub­urb for re­li­gious cer­e­mony

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JEFF WICKS

If you’re an in­som­niac and live in Lin­den Road in the up­mar­ket sub­urb of Morn­ing­side, Dur­ban, you won’t have a prob­lem count­ing sheep.

That’s be­cause, for the past week, a prom­i­nent Dur­ban busi­ness fam­ily’s va­cant R7-mil­lion three-storey prop­erty — with seven bed­rooms, five bath­rooms, land­scaped garden, dou­ble garage and park­ing for 10 cars — has been used to house about 100 sheep and goats crowded in ad hoc pad­docks around the pool. And it’s got neigh­bours bleat­ing mad. The live­stock, des­tined to be slaugh­tered dur­ing the re­li­gious cel­e­bra­tion of Eid alAdha on Fri­day, will see out their fi­nal days in the lap of lux­ury, with panoramic views of Dur­ban’s ci­tyscape and coast­line.

The move has pit­ted the Ab­doola fam­ily against their neigh­bours, who were quick to re­port the smelly new­com­ers to the eThek­wini metro po­lice, health de­part­ment and SPCA.

Anne Schauf­fer, who lives a few houses away from the Ab­doolas’ prop­erty, said she was aghast when a live­stock truck ar­rived.

“Of course, I was shocked be­cause I’m a bunny hug­ger and I was con­cerned about the well­be­ing of the an­i­mals,” she said.

“Now this en­tire place is be­ing turned into a farm­yard and they just don’t care. How you can have so many an­i­mals in a res­i­den­tial area is com­pletely beyond me.”

An­other neigh­bour, who spoke to the Sun­day Times on con­di­tion of anonymity, said the first in­di­ca­tion of the new “prob­lem ten­ants” was the bleat­ing.

“Last week we heard a sound like some­one be­ing killed . . . turns out it was a goat. Since then more and more an­i­mals have ar­rived and the place smells like a farm­yard,” she added.

But an Ab­doola fam­ily spokesman, who did not want to be named, la­belled his neigh­bours “in­tol­er­ant and de­ri­sive”, in­sist­ing that the fam­ily’s re­li­gious free­dom was be­ing tram­pled upon.

“We had com­plaints from our neigh­bours who all rushed off to re­port us and, when I spoke to them, I just asked them to give us some time. All the an­i­mals will be off the prop­erty by the end of the month,” he said.

He added that the rit­ual slaugh­ter of the sheep would be done else­where, which seemed to ap­pease some neigh­bours. ‘We didn’t think we’d need a per­mit’ “I’m not sur­prised by how in­tol­er­ant my neigh­bours are. We have tried to min­imise the in­con­ve­nience to them, but this is our tra­di­tion and cul­ture that they are sti­fling.”

The spokesman said that even though more than 100 sheep — worth about R250 000 — had been trucked onto the prop­erty, they had not thought to ap­ply for a per­mit from the eThek­wini mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“We didn’t think we would need a per­mit for such a short pe­riod of time. Af­ter ev­ery­one com­plained, we started ap­ply­ing for one but they have turned us down. So now ev­ery day we are be­ing is­sued with a fine.”

eThek­wini mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s Tozi Mthethwa said that by­laws did al­low for live­stock to be kept in res­i­den­tial ar­eas for re­li­gious pur­poses, but that a per­mit was re­quired.

The fam­ily owed close to R5 000 in penal­ties for not com­ply­ing with the city by­law.

The Mus­lim Ju­di­cial Coun­cil’s Moulana Ab­dul Khaliq Al­lie said that an­i­mal wel­fare was part of the teach­ings of Is­lam.

“We urge our com­mu­nity to en­sure that an­i­mals are kept in a safe and clean en­vi­ron­ment, with ad­e­quate food, wa­ter, space and shel­ter. Stress to­wards the an­i­mal should be avoided,” he said. “An­i­mals should be han­dled in a hu­mane and con­sid­er­ate man­ner, by ex­pe­ri­enced hands, for both an­i­mal and hu­man safety. Is­lam ad­vo­cates mercy, com­pas­sion and kind­ness to an­i­mals.”

Dur­ban and Coast SPCA spokes­woman Lind­sey Con­cer said that in­spec­tors had con­ducted sev­eral vis­its to the Ab­doola home and found that the sheep and goats were be­ing well cared for.

“The an­i­mals have been given shel­ter, food and wa­ter and there have been no wel­fare con­cerns.

“If there had been, we would have con­sid­ered con­fis­cat­ing the an­i­mals,” she said.

Pic­ture: Jackie Clausen

This mul­ti­mil­lion-rand Dur­ban prop­erty in Lin­den Road, Morn­ing­side, is presently home to sheep worth R250 000, ahead of the re­li­gious cel­e­bra­tion of Eid al-Adha.

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