A Nkayi family in Matabeleland North Province has lost 21 cattle valued at over US$8 500 after a dangerous grain protectant was accidentally administered to them.
The Chronicle’s Mkhululi Ncube reports that the cattle were on Sunday given a tablet each of aluminium phosphide which is used for fumigating stored grain, seeds and tobacco among others.
The cattle belong to three Mpofu family members, Mr Lindani Mpofu, who bought the pesticide; Mr Orderly Mpofu, who dosed the cattle and 97-year-old Mrs Jennet Mpofu.
Family spokesperson Mr Dennis Mpofu, who is based in Bulawayo and had to travel to Nkayi, said what happened was a disaster which has traumatised the family. He added:
One of the family members bought grain preserving pesticide and gave it to one teenage boy to take it home.
The young man forgot the message and when he got home he said the contents were for dosing cattle.
Unfortunately, the person who administered the pills is not well educated and never read, but just administered it as they have always been dosing cattle.
They gave each cow a tablet and before long the cattle started dying.
Only one ox survived after the family was advised to make it drink opaque beer – amasese.
He said besides the ox, one heifer and two calves which were not given the deadly pills are the remaining livestock.
The container of the pesticide has a label that states that the contents are a dangerous poison.
He said the veterinary officer in the area advised the family to bury the cattle instead of burning them.
Mr Mpofu said the family is open to any form of help they may get from well-wishers to help them restock.
Village Head Ncube said what happened was unfortunate and they were at a loss of words as a community.