Soweto next for Dan’s croc braai

2014-03-13 00:00

MARITZBURGERS these days eat roughly 950 kg of crocodile meat a week.

While this is only a tiny cut of the tons of other kinds of meat sold weekly in KZN’s capital, the demand for almost four tons of crocodile meat a month did not exist two years ago.

Now the constant queue at the relatively new Dan Crocodile Meat Butchery on Boom Street has inspired the owner, Dan Ndlela, to open his next ingwenya shisa nyama in Soweto.

“We are preparing a shop much like the model I use here [in Pietermaritzburg] and I hope to sell a ton of crocodile meat each week in Soweto, starting in April,” Ndlela told The Witness.

This includes not just braai cuts, but also the tongue, a croc goulash and Ndlela’s crocodile sausage, which has the aficionados licking their fingers. Ndlela said he sells about 150 kilograms of his croc boerewors a week.

Asked if the boerie contained any pork, Ndlela was indignant. “This is a crocodile butchery, we only use the crocodile,” he said.

He buys all his meat from Brandon Pentolfe, who raises 10 000 Nile crocodiles at Shallow Drift near Pietermaritzburg.

Raphael Tsaurayi, Shallow Drift abattoir manager, first approached Ndlela with the idea of marketing crocodile meat to local consumers.

Pentolfe had earlier told The Witness that when the economy in Europe collapsed in 2008, they stopped exporting the meat and tried selling it locally. At first they sold only 50 kilograms. Last year they sold up to five tons of crocodile meat a month.

The crocodiles at Shallow Drift are “free range” and kept in big open pens with large tracts of grass and large pools to bathe in. They eat offcuts from butcheries.

Ndlela said he was initially keen but unsure how locals would take to the meat of the mighty carnivore. He has since learnt the taste always wins over those who are squeamish.

Pentolfe said Ndlela has managed to pioneer a new and thriving market for crocodile meat and is now his main client, buying about 70% of his stock, with the rest going to a shop in Newcastle and specialist restaurants.

Asked what made crocodile meat special, Pentolfe said crocodiles had survived without much change since the late Cretaceous period, over 65 million years ago; and scientific research has shown the prehistoric reptile’s fat cells to be very rich in antibodies, which act like bactericides. “Oriental cultures have long believed that eating crocodile is not just tasty, but very healthy,” said Pentolse.

Braai-master at Dan’s shisa nyama, Zamo Zondi, had a slightly different reason for the rising popularity of the croc cut. He said men liked to buy crocodile because it was the most meat available for the money, “but some ladies come to buy our frozen packs of crocodile tail for their husbands”, he added with a wink.

A 100 gram fillet of the Nile crocodile farmed in South Africa typically contains 415 kilojoules, which is the lowest energy count of the six meats sold in SA, including pork and venison.

Yet the protein count is 21,5 per gram, which is higher than beef and only 0,5 less than pork (Source:

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