Cops and cattle
SAPS members own some strays roaming streets, AgriEC reveals
The reluctance of police to act against the owners of straying unmarked cattle in Ndlambe has been ascribed to the fact that some SAPS members are themselves owners of such straying beasts.
A Bathurst policeman, Sergeant Mzamo Bryan Sansom, has been ousted as the owner of frequently straying cattle in the village after an incident last year in which seven of his animals wandered into the Bathurst Showgrounds – and impoundment procedures were initiated.
Agri EC representative Brent McNamara provided Talk of the Town with the information, including a sworn affidavit by Sansom, following Sansom’s failure to pay for the transport costs of the truck sent to take his cattle to the municipal pound.
McNamara resorted to a civil claim to recover the costs – R1,836 – and recently got a default judgment against Sansom in the Port Alfred magistrate’s court and a warrant of execution against Sansom to attach property to recover the debt owed.
Police have refused to respond to TotT’s questions about the issue, claiming it was a private matter between McNamara and Port Alfred cluster commander Brigadier Morgan Govender.
Explaining that the problem went beyond Sansom, Bathurst Agricultural Society (BAS) president Danny Wepener said there were at least two other policemen – whose names are known to TotT – who own straying beasts. One owns both cattle and goats which enter the Bathurst Showgrounds, and another owns cattle that have wandered into the property of the St Francis Health Centre.
McNamara, who was vice-president of the BAS at the time of the incident with Sansom’s cattle, said he had arranged for impoundment of the beasts after receiving a call from BAS office staff at the Bathurst Showgrounds on September 8 last year that a group of stray cattle had again come in through the main entrance of the showgrounds.
“This same group of cattle regularly stray onto public roads in the area and enter private property. These cattle, apart from the obvious danger posed to traffic, cause damage and are an extreme nuisance,” McNamara said.
He cited SAPS incident report numbers from previous occasions these strays had been reported at the Bathurst police station.
McNamara had also previously instructed BSA staff to ask the Bathurst station commander for SAPS to establish the ownership of such strays and issue an admission of guilt fine (called a J534) to the owners for their animals straying and for non-compliance with the Animal Identification Act (AIDA).
At the time, the Bathurst station commander claimed not to know who the animals belonged to.
At the September 8 incident, McNamara organised transport to remove the cattle to the Ndlambe Municipal Pound in Alexandria.
“The municipal truck was not available, so I contracted Skylark Logistics to transport the animals at 1.41pm. While on route to the showgrounds, I was again contacted by the BAS staff at 2.20pm, and informed that somebody had arrived, and was claiming that the cattle were his. It was reported to me that he demanded their immediate return and adopted a threatening attitude and was verbally abusive,” McNamara said.
He told BAS staff to contact the Bathurst SAPS for assistance and he also called Captain Hansie Slabbert at the Port Alfred Cluster Office and informed him of the situation.
By the time McNamara arrived at the showgrounds, he said the Bathurst station commander was already at the scene.
“While we were moving the cattle to the loading ramp, a person shouted to me from outside the fence, and demanded to know what I was doing with his cattle. I approached him, introduced myself and informed him who I was, and that I was removing the seven unmarked cattle that had strayed into the showground premises. He stated that the cattle were his and demanded their immediate return,” McNamara said.
“I informed him that as the cattle were not marked in accordance with the AIDA, and in terms of the Ndlambe Municipality Impoundment Bylaws, I was removing the animals to the pound.
“While we were busy loading the animals and in the presence of the station commander of the Bathurst SAPS, this person and a number of people with him, threatened the staff loading, and prevented me from loading the animals. I requested the captain in attendance to assist and instruct this person to cease with his actions and vacate the BAS property. The captain did nothing but watch, and then apparently contacted Capt Slabbert.”
McNamara said it was at that point that he established that the person claiming to be the owner was Sgt Sansom, from the Bathurst SAPS.
Receiving no help from the station commander, McNamara again contacted Slabbert and requested police assistance. Slabbert’s response was that as ownership had been established, there was no need to send the animals to the pound.
“I then informed him that none of the animals were marked in terms of AIDA, and as such apart from Sgt Sansom’s verbal claims, ownership had not been established. I also enquired as to who was now going to pay the associated transport costs if the animals were released.”
Slabbert eventually proposed that Sansom make a sworn affidavit as to ownership and in which he would agree to pay the costs incurred for the truck and that the SAPS would then issue the appropriate admission of guilt fines.
McNamara agreed, even though he felt it was not the correct way to handle the matter.
Sansom resisted the idea of accepting liability for the transport costs, until three other policemen arrived, including a WO Loubser, who told him there would be no further negotiations.
According to the admission of guilt fine details provided to McNamara, Sansom was issued with a fine of R3,500 for allowing animals to stray, and R600 for failing to mark animals. To date, it is not known what fines Sansom paid, if any, as the police would not reveal that information.
“As the representative of organised agriculture at the Sub Joints meeting [with SAPS], I have on numerous occasions raised the concern that in our opinion some SAPS members who are keeping cattle within the Ndlambe area, in contravention of the applicable bylaws and the AIDA, as well as allowing them to stray, are part of the problem. This is in my personal opinion often the reason why no action is taken by the SAPS when stray cattle and goats are reported,” McNamara said.
Wepener said the problem of stray cattle and goats entering the Bathurst Showgrounds was ongoing.
TotT’s questions to Brig Govender and provincial SAPS went unanswered.
The only response TotT received was from Captain Mali Govender, who said it was “not the policy of the SAPS to discuss correspondence and
ONGOING PROBLEM: Cattle belonging to Bathurst policeman Sergeant Mzamo Bryan Sansom strayed into the Bathurst Showgrounds last year, resulting in a confrontation when impoundment procedures were initiated