‘Our cattle are starving’ — Kokstad farmers

2018-07-13 06:00
PHOTO: siphelele nketoHungry cattle look for food near the burnt areas around the Umzintlava River.

PHOTO: siphelele nketoHungry cattle look for food near the burnt areas around the Umzintlava River.

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EMERGING farmers from Kokstad are concerned about the increasing number of veld fires which, they say, affect their stock. Farmers asked people to avoid causing unnecessary veld fires because their cattle are starving.

WhenFeverreporter drove around Kokstad, cattle were seen looking for grass between rocks. As a result of veld fires, there was nothing but black burn residue next to the Umzintlava River.

“Last week, we worked tirelessly trying to fight flames next to the Umzintlava River so that our cattle would have something to eat.

“A portion of land was not burnt after we received help from firefighters,” said concerned emerging farmer Alton Pakkies.

“Our cattle are starving now because of veld fires and we need help from government to save our stock. Every winter season we warn people not to make fires, but they do not listen,” he added.

Another farmer, Zweledinga Mahonya, said veld fires also affected meat supply.

Thomekile Ngodwana, a Kokstad firefighter supervisor, said a number of awareness campaigns have been conducted to educate people about the risks of causing veld fires.

Between June 25 and July 1, a number of veld and forest fires were attended to in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Department of Environmental Affairs and Working on Fire (Wof) teams dispatched 150 firefighters to high fire danger areas across the province.

“The province was affected by the high danger index, resulting in 13 fires across the province.

Firefighting teams, who were trained to deal with fires, will be on high alert to attend fires in various communities,” said Nompilo Zondi from Wof. Some of the areas affected by fires include eDumbe, Harding, Ulundi, Umzimkhulu, Buffelsdraai, Vryheid, Eshowe, and Kokstad.

Zondi said firefighters would be on high alert, but they will also provide full fire fighting services to land owners and municipalities.

She urged communities to remain vigilant as they enter the second month of winter, urging people not to start unnecessary fires.

She said people must also take note of fire danger index warnings issued by South African Weather Service.

“We have 45 vehicles, eight buses, five hat trucks, 10 fire trucks, nine strike units and 10 bakkies to deal with fires in the province,” she said.

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