*14 dead cattle symbolise poor race relations
DIGAWANA: A Mmegi team arrived late in the afternoon to find frustrated villagers looking helplessly on a shocking scene that has left them more impoverished.
In a few words, Deputy headman Moatlhodi Kgwakgwe spoke of an uneasy period of tension between his subjects and the Caucasian farmer months before the mass slaughter of their livestock.Kgosi Kgwakgwe described the farmer as a vengeful man with little respect for the villagers. "When our animals stray onto his farm that lies three kilometres outside Digawana, he locks them up for days without food or water," the headman said. "When people go to retrieve them, he demands compensation for trespassing."
Although his conversation with Mmegi was brief, the headman repeated the refrain that it has been an unpleasant co-existence with the farmer who goes by the name of Koos."Even so," he said, "it never occurred to us that the friction could reach a point where our cattle would be poisoned."
Kgosi Kgwakgwe said that the farmer told the police that the cattle had entered his farm and then opened packets of the poisonous substance. A farmer who lost two cattle in this manner, Kedukanetse Mpare, also said that Koos had a tendency of locking up cattle that entered his farm as a means of extorting money from the villagers.
Approached for comment, Koos would not speak directly with the Mmegi team. Preferring to speak through a 'farm boy,'
Their sense of loss was not helped by, as Kgosi Kgwakgwe explained, a strong police warning that the villagers were not to eat the meat of their animals lest they themselves be poisoned.Meanwhile, Superintendent Robert Mack of Lobatse Police Station confirmed that they are investigating a case in which 14 carcases were found on a farm near Digawana. At the moment no person has been charged.
He further confirmed that the chemical is mixed with feeds in very small quantities, but can be very dangerous if consumed in large quantities. Mack expressed concern at the relationship between the farm owner and the residents saying his office has handled a number of complaints from both parties about each other.In a separate incident, eight goats were found dead at Molapowabojang after eating a deadly plant. The police have engaged veterinary officers in their investigations.