Durban Metro police sets up committee to address the ’growing’ issue of cattle roaming in suburbs, after Phoenix man gored to death
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Durban: The failure of eThekwini Municipality to enforce by-laws has resulted in the death of Seelan Chetty, a 71-year-old Phoenix husband, father and grandfather.
On Saturday afternoon, Chetty was returning to his home in Westham when a bull attacked him.
According to residents in the area, herds of cattle (including bulls, cows and calves) graze on a daily basis between the houses in the area, eating from the uncut verges. They are apparently owned by people who live in the nearby informal settlement.
Sometimes herdsmen are present, but on Saturday afternoon, none were present when a bull gored Chetty in the leg. He managed to walk limping, screaming for help and bleeding profusely.
Neighbours called KZN VIP Medical Services, and while waiting for help to arrive, they tried to stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the wound with towels. But by the time the paramedics arrived, Chetty had died.
A relative, who asked not to be named, said: "He (Chetty) went to the shop and was returning home when the bull attacked him. His main artery was severed. He had already lost a lot of blood while trying to get home, and he died a short while later. He was a humble person and was loved by everyone. He lived in the community for about 30 years."
“We want to get the funeral done, and thereafter, we want to take this matter up. Cattle should not be allowed to graze freely as is now the case.”
The relative said they intended on reporting the matter to the municipality.
"There are schools, clinics and shopping centres nearby. Children and the elderly use these roads. Whoever owned that bull should be held to account."
Sheila Moodley, 69, a retired machinist, said she was in her home when she heard Chetty screaming for help.
"I saw him lying on the road outside his home in a pool of blood. There was a long trail of blood from where he was attacked to his home. His wife was at his side. She was in shock. His pants were ripped open. The flesh from his thigh was hanging out. There was blood everywhere. He told us a bull attacked him with its horns. I was praying he would pull through.
"I have lived in the area for 40 years, and we were not just neighbours. We were family. These bulls and cows are always in the area grazing. My neighbours have asked the herdsmen not to bring them here, but they do not listen. After the incident, the herdsmen took the bulls and cows away."
She said the municipality needed to be firm.
"They must enforce the by-laws."
Leela Ramlucken, 56, a pensioner, said: "I tried to rub his back to help stop the pain. We tried to stop the bleeding, but the blood just kept flowing out. When the paramedics arrived, they tried their best to help him. But I watched helplessly as I watched him die."
Ramlucken said she believed the cattle were brought into the area because the grass was long due to the municipality not having cut it.
"A day after his death, the municipality came to cut a portion of the overgrown grass, but it was not even in the area where he was attacked. The cattle have been destroying gardens, defecating on our property, attracting flies and leaving behind ticks on our property. It is a health hazard. We need our councillors and the municipality to resolve this problem before someone else is hurt."
Daniel Govender, 63, said a few days before the incident, he and another neighbour had asked the herdsmen to remove the cattle.
"We told them it was dangerous to have the cattle graze in the area and that they were destroying our plants. He apologised and left only to return on Saturday. We tried our best to protect our community."
Doug Gengiah, a friend of Chetty's, said: "He was a good man. He was loved by all. We played cards together and talked about our younger days. He was a father figure to a lot of people in the community.
"I saw the herd a day before the incident at a shopping centre not far from his home. There was one bull that looked very angry. He was shaking his head and kicking his back legs. A suburb like Phoenix is not a place for cattle."
The POST searched the Westham area and found the cattle at a sports ground.
Samier Singh, the councillor for the area, said he wrote to metro police and the municipality asking them to intervene.
"I have asked these departments to enforce the by-laws and stop the cattle owners from allowing them to roam freely."
Msawakhe Mayisela, the spokesperson for the municipality, said : "A loss of life is a concern for the city. We pass our condolences to the family."
He said there were two by-laws, the Public Health By-Law and the City of Durban Animal By-Law, that pertained to animals.
"Section 72 of the Public Health By-Law prohibits any person from using premises or any stable, kraal, shed, kennel, sty or any other enclosure for the keeping of bovines, horses, donkeys, goats, sheep’s, pigs, except with the authority of the medical officer of health."
Mayisela said the second by-law prohibited any animal from being on any street or public place except when the animal was being transported in a vehicle with consent from a chief constable from Metro Police.
He said when the by-laws were contravened, the city followed a process.
As for the long grass, Mayisela said: "The grass cutting season commences in September or October and lasts up until July because in winter, the grass does not grow as fast as the other seasons. The city undertakes eight cuts per year on a six-week cutting cycle. The city has tasked the company responsible for grass cutting in the area to cut the grass."
Parboo Sewpersad, the spokesperson for metro police, said they had set up a committee to look at what was now a growing issue in several areas of the city.
"Cattle roaming in suburbs are affecting communities in the North Coast, South Coast, Inner West and Outer West areas. Metro police's duty is to enforce the law, and right now, there is no system in place to deal specifically with this issue. Through the committee, we are engaging with the Metro Police Departments in those areas to see how we can resolve these issues."
Lieutenant Colonel Nqobile Gwala, a provincial police spokesperson, said an inquest docket was being investigated by Phoenix SAPS.
Chetty’s remains will be cremated at the Clare Estate Crematorium on Wednesday.