The KwaZulu-Natal agriculture department said it regretted the allowing of foot-and-mouth disease fence in the KwaZulu-Natal north coast to fall apart.
‘It should not have happened. We will make sure it is erected as soon as possible,” said the department’s head of department, Sizwe Mkhize.
His comment about the fence follows the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in northern KwaZulu-Natal’s Ingwavuma area where the “red line” fence that used to protect local cattle for decades had been allowed to fall into disrepair.
This had happened about eight years ago and Mkhize was unable to say why it happened. The fence had started falling apart in the 1990s, he said.
‘I wish I could be able to answer that question. I was not in the department when it happened. I will have to check and find out why,” he said.
The department was expected to face a huge challenge in erecting the fence as homes had already been built in some areas where the fence was erected.
‘It is true that there we will have to do a lot of consultation before we erect it again,” Mkhize said.
He said the erection of the fence was a national competence, saying that negotiations were underway between the national and provincial government to erect it.
The Inkatha Freedom Party on Tuesday said the non-existence of the ‘red fence” line was to blame for the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
“The fence between Ingwavuma and the KwaZulu-Natal north coast was vandalised over the last few years and has not been reconstructed despite funds being allocated for this purpose,” said agriculture, environmental affairs and rural development spokesman Henry Combrinck.
He said the IFP had long questioned the provincial agriculture department’s failure to spend the R25 million allocated for the reconstruction of the protective fence.
“The broken-down fence alongside the failure to enforce border controls has resulted in a free-flow of infected cattle from Mozambique,” said Combrinck.
South Africa’s leaky borders with Swaziland and Mozambique were responsible for the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, he said.
On Monday, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson announced that there was a suspected outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
“The department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries has picked up some suspect positive serological results for foot-and-mouth disease,” Joemat-Pettersson told a press conference at Parliament.
She said over 600 animals had been tested and 50% of them were found to be positive.
The matter was reported to the World Health Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on Friday.
All exports of cloven-hoofed animals from South Africa have been suspended.
Mkhize said the department was intensifying surveillance in the north of the White Umfolozi River to determine the spread of the infection.
The department was also collecting samples from the various parts of UMkhanyakude District to assess if there were any new cases. The process would help to determine the extent of the virus on the animals that have already tested positive.
‘The department cannot confirm the origin of the outbreak at this stage,” he said. — Sapa