The Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform’s (DRDAR) ban on game meat processing outside of an abattoir could kill off the hunting industry in the Eastern Cape.
A recent letter addressed to all game farms and abattoirs in the province, noted with concern that game farms were dressing game meat for human and animal consumption outside of an abattoir, and instructed them to stop or face prosecution.
The move has the potential of bringing the hunting industry in the province to a complete standstill, which would be a massive blow to the province’s already frail economy and could result in massive job losses.
The letter, written Dr VE Rozani, Director: Export Control and Veterinary Public Health, quotes certain parts of the Meat Safety Act 40 of 2000, which he says Game Farms are contravening. In particular, he quotes Section 7 (1) and (2) of the Act, which states:
“7 (1) No person may –
Slaughter any animal at any place other than an abattoir;
Permit the slaughter of any animal at any place under his or her control unless the place is an abattoir; or
Sell-or provide meat for human and animal consumption unless it has been slaughtered at an abattoir.
(2) (a) Subsection (1) does not apply to slaughter for own consumption or for cultural or religious purposes.
Dr Rozani also refers to Section 11 (1) (b) (c), (d) and (j) of the Act and draws the conclusion that during game culling or harvesting, there must be a qualified person who inspects that animal before it is shot, if that meat is to qualify for human and animal consumption.
Given the free-range nature in which the game is hunted, it is certainly impossible to have each animal inspected before it will be shot.
The correspondence has highlighted a legal absurdity that has either been created by the Act, or alternatively, through the interpretation of the Act by Dr Rozani.
What was not noted, is that under Section 12 of the Act, it is possible for the Minister to consider gazetting a separate scheme applicable to game meat. Such a scheme could possibly address the issues raised. Ethical hunting remains a recognised aspect of the South African economy and is an accepted component of our shared culture.
I have written to DRDAR MEC Nonkqubela Pieters and the Head of Department, Bongikhaya Dayimani, to request an urgent meeting between representatives of DRDAR, the Hunting Industry, organised agriculture, the Red Meat Producers Organisation and Environmental Health to discuss the correspondence as well as ways and means to support the Game/Hunting industry in the Eastern Cape.
I have also asked that the Department discuss with the stakeholders the possibility of petitioning the Minister to consider a separate scheme, which could be applicable to the game meat industry.