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Free State Agriculture demands strong action by law enforcement on anthrax

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31 May 2019

“Free State Agriculture (FSA) expresses serious concerns about the outbreak of anthrax in Lesotho. This could have catastrophic consequences for the meat industry in the province,” said Francois Wilken, President of FSA, after an outbreak of the disease near Maseru in Lesotho was confirmed.

According to him, FSA has over a period of 15 years tried to make the government, in and out of court, aware of the dangers at the Lesotho border. “This often didn’t result in anything and authorities walked away from their responsibilities to protect their citizens in situations such as those that are now emerging.” He believes the authorities have repeatedly disregarded orders by the court imposed on them and the financial burden became too much for FSA to continue in courts.

“Together with other industry role players, we are demanding strong action and responsibility from the Department of Agriculture and law enforcement to address the imminent crisis with the necessary seriousness,” Wilken said.

Only putting a ban on livestock and wool imports will not address the problem. “Major problems at the border are stock theft and illegal grazing of livestock from Lesotho. This should be jointly addressed by the South African National Defence Force, the South African Police Service and veterinarians under the Department of Agriculture, by putting in place the necessary pounds. Most of the livestock are illegally crossing the border and not by lawful access routes or border posts.”

Another concern for FSA is the growing cases of farm attacks by Lesotho citizens on farmers in the Free State, and even so far as the Western Cape. According to Wilken, FSA will as soon as possible take up this issue with the necessary government institutions. “We appeal to our members to provide all relevant information to FSA’s office, so that a purposeful action can be launched.”