The community in Lerato Park wants the animal bones removed from a shack in the residential area of Bobo se Plaas. Picture: Soraya Crowie/DFA

Kimberley - The community in Lerato Park wants a makeshift bone meal factory to be shut down after a mountain of animal bones was off-loaded in a residential area in Bobo se Plaas.

Dogs and pigs are chewing on the decomposing meat and bones after the wire fence of the enclosure where the bones are kept, collapsed.

Residents have objected to the stench and the health hazards arising from the bone factory.

“The heap of rotting bones attracts vermin such as worms and flies and we are worried that our children will become sick,” they complained.

One resident, Belinda van Rooyen, was concerned that her baby would play with the bones that were dumped close to her home.

“A community meeting was held last week where everybody agreed that the bones should be removed.”

Community members noticed the bones on the corner of the street about a week ago.

“The bones are being left here without permission or a permit. Deliveries probably take place at night because they suddenly appeared. The premises are also being used as an illegal scrap yard.”

The owner of the house explained that she and her husband were processing the bones to be sold as bone meal.

“We are only trying to make an honest living. We transport the bones from the rubbish dumps and then dry them out in a short period. It is only rain-soaked because of the wet weather. I take care of my mother, who is sickly, and we use the profits from the sale of the bone meal to buy fruit and vegetables for the market we have in Homevale,” the owner said.

She added that her brother stayed at the shanty in Bobo se Plaas to keep an eye on the bones.

“I am very disappointed that residents never consulted me first about their grievances. I also tolerate some of the things that I don’t like about my neighbours . . . they only needed to come and talk to me. I do not have a problem moving the goods.”

She stated that they had even moved the bones that were lying outside the yard into the yard upon request of her neighbours.

She questioned why the complaints had arisen, as she maintained that they were not inconveniencing anyone.

“The same community does not complain when we give them the fruit and vegetables from our shop that can no longer be sold to the public.”

EFF branch chairman McBride Motsage claimed that residents were living in an unhealthy environment – in what he said resembled an “elephant graveyard”.

“The health inspectors should be called in. The smell is worse when it is hot and the bones are lying around in the dirt and mud. Surely health and safety regulations are not being followed,” Motsage said.

He added that they would stage a service delivery march soon to protest against the living conditions in Lerato Park.

“They are still using the bucket system and have no running water, sanitation or electricity.”

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesman Sello Matsie confirmed that the bone factory was operating in contravention of health and safety and rezoning regulations.

“The sale of these meaty bones is a health risk to consumers and will not be allowed. This matter will be investigated for the necessary action to be taken against the responsible party,” said Matsie.

He added that the bones had to be removed immediately, as they were a health risk.

“The business must obtain permission from the municipality to operate in the residential area. Bones must be stored in a factory in hygienic conditions. There are associated illnesses where there is exposure to decomposing food.”

Matsie invited the informal business owner to seek assistance from the municipality.

“We will update him with all the necessary regulations governing the storage, the transport of food and related matters. The responsible person(s) need to comply with the regulations when handling and selling any food products to the public.

“Unsafe and unhygienic disposal of these food products is unacceptable as it has the potential to a cause harm to human health and the environment.”