Baa goes the neighbourhood
Sheep and goats kept in posh suburb for religious ceremony
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.
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.