BULAWAYO – A family in Nkayi, Matabeleland North, lost 21 cattle after mistaking a deadly pesticide for one of the popular worm remedies for livestock.
In total, 22 cattle were administered a tablet each of aluminium phosphide, which is used for fumigating stored grain. Only an ox survived Sunday’s incident.
The cattle were owned by three members of the Mpofu family in Nhlekisa Village.
Dennis Mpofu, a member of the family, told journalists that miscommunication between the person who bought the aluminium phosphide, the courier and finally the person who administered it led to the catastrophe.
“One of the family members bought a grain-preserving pesticide in Bulawayo 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,” Mpofu told The Chronicle.
“Unfortunately, the person who administered the tablets is not well educated and never read, but just administered it as they have always been dosing cattle. They gave each animal a tablet and before long, the cattle started dying.”
Mpofu said the ox survived after they gave it opaque traditional beer on the recommendations of one of the villagers.
A bred heifer and two calves which were spared the poison are what the family is left with.
The cattle were owned by Lindani Mpofu, who bought the pesticide; Orderly Mpofu who dosed the cattle and their mother 97-year-old Jennet Mpofu.
“We dug a long deep trench and buried them on Monday,” Dennis Mpofu said. “It was unbearable watching the cattle go just like that and having to bury them was just traumatising.”
Village head Thome Ncube said: “We are mourning their loss and it’s sad that the person who did this did it with a good intention, without knowing it would result in this great loss.
“Cattle are our bank, and they will not be able to do farming and many other things without their livestock.”