Saturday, August 13, 2022

Maun abattoir uses contaminated water to wash meat

Butchery owners in Maun were last week left dismayed by a microbiological report that revealed that the meat they sell to their customers is washed with water unsuitable for human consumption.

The startling revelation came out at a meeting organised by the Ngamiland Butchery Operators and attended by close to four hundred farmers who sell cattle to Maun butcheries.

The microbiological report, brought by one of the butchery owners, Sephai Garbet, was read out at the meeting and summarised the outcome in two sentences: “The sample is highly contaminated. It’s not suitable for human consumption”.

The report, later passed on to The Telegraph, was issued by the Department of Water Affairs’ Water Quality Laboratory. The butchery operators claim the water sample was drawn from the abattoir.
The meeting was called to share grievances and map the way forward over the alleged appalling conditions at the privately owned abattoir, which enjoys the monopoly of the cattle slaughter business in Ngamiland. Butchery owners raised a litany of grievances over what they termed ‘improper use of the abattoir’.

They also faulted the Department of Veterinary Services for turning a blind eye on their concerns.

The abattoir is said to operate without cold room facilities and, as such, carcasses that fail the inspection end up being ferried to other places, thus contravening the Veterinary Act, which calls for the quarantining of animals at the place of inspection to avoid the spread of diseases.

According to the Secretary of the Ngamiland Butchery Operators, Morapedi Morapedi, a lot of butcheries are currently not running due to lack of meat supply because they are given long waiting periods before their cattle can be slaughtered. He said the problem comes from the fact that individual farmers are allowed to make their bookings and prospect for the market and as a result congest the queue for them as the ‘‘rightful users of the abattoir”.

Morapedi said it was frustrating for butchery owners to be booked for a period of 2-3 weeks before one could get meat into the butchery. Butchery owners also decried the abattoir’s failure to meet their slaughtering demands as it can only slaughter twenty animals per day in an area that boasts of 62 butcheries.

Morapedi said the bookings at the abattoir must be accompanied by licences to purchase or trading licences of people or entities that are lawfully registered to deal in the meat industry as the act requires. He also suggested that the veterinary office must coordinate and somehow control the bookings and allocation of quotas as that will ensure clear traces of where the carcasses are going to end up at.

Butchery owners complained that the current setup leaves room for unscrupulous farmers to sell meat from unlicensed premises, including auctioning from the back of their vans.

Another concern that was raised and had the support of farmers is the arrangement where abattoir users are expected to pay for services upfront. The cost of slaughtering at the abattoir is P35O per beast and some farmers complained that it was unfair to be expected to pay for bookings that are only going to be honoured after two months. Some of the farmers said they feared paying upfront as there is no assurance for reimbursement should unforeseen circumstances crop up before they get the service from the abattoir.

Approached for comment at her butchery in Sedia Ward, which doubles as office for the abattoir, Monametsi Boitumelo told The Telegraph that she was the one responsible for the bookings at the abattoir and rubbished concerns raised by members of the Ngamiland Butchery Operators.

Boitumelo said the allegations raised against the abattoir were just efforts by select butchery owners who are trying hard to frustrate the operations of the abattoir. She said the problem of failing to meet the demand is a result of the abattoir having been assigned one inspector from the veterinary department. She also said they started charging customers up front after realising that some had the tendency to make bookings and later fail to bring their cattle for slaughtering.


Read this week's paper