Jabu Mkwanazi’s love for chickens and geese has left a “fowl” smell with a neighbour in the quiet Joburg suburb of Kelvin.
The complaint went as far as the high court. This has now left Mkwanazi with a restraining order, which he is determined to appeal.
“How can I go to the high court for chickens? I’m being criminalised for chickens,” he said.
In 2009, Mkwanazi received a permit to keep chickens and geese on his 4 000m² property.
“The chickens love the environment and I enjoy having them around. It’s unfortunate that we see animals as just meat,” he said.
Mkwanazi said he believed in self-sufficiency.
His do-it-yourself attitude saw him work hand-in-hand with the builders of his three-storey house for five years, stopping only when he would fall short of money.
The home and back garden, which takes up 2 000m², is filled with pot plants and vegetables that Mkwanazi planted himself.
“I like to keep busy. My grandchildren come on weekends to see the chickens, but when all of them come running towards me, the children run away,” he said.
Mkwanazi used to own 60 chickens and 40 geese, but gave them away to family and friends as gifts over the years.
He is now left with just more than 20 chickens, hens and roosters, and 10 geese.
“The permit does not specify how many animals I’m allowed to have on my property. I have neighbours who also have animals in their gardens,” he said.
Mkwanazi said the neighbour’s complaints were that the chickens left a bad smell in the air; attracted flies; were noisy; and that Mkwanazi was selling the chickens - thus running an illegal business.
To reduce the smell, Mkwanazi said he had bought dustbins to store the animals’ food and droppings, which he kept to make compost.
The chickens live in coops and cages in an enclosed space in the back garden.
He said he only ever gave the chickens away as gifts.
“In countries like Botswana, this kind of thing is encouraged. Eating the meat of geese is healthier and they never get sick.
“Here people are worried about material value,” added Mkwanazi.
In October 2012, the matter was taken to court, and in December last year, Mkwanazi lost the case.
“The court order says I mustn’t keep any, or else I will be fined R50 000 or spend six months in jail,” he said.
Mkwanazi said he did not understand how he was in the wrong when he had followed the law.