Mkhululi Ncube, Chronicle Reporter
MALE and female members of a Nkayi family in Matabeleland North Province, who lost 21 cattle after dozing them with a deadly grain protectant, have been sleeping in the same room since the fatal accident last Sunday to guard against any member attempting suicide.
The cattle were given a tablet each of the aluminium phosphide which is used for fumigating stored grain, seeds, tobacco among others leading to their death.
Of the 22 that were dozed, one is still alive although it is not yet clear if it will fully recover.
The devastated family now also has only one other cow and some calves.
Mrs Sakhiwe Moyo (48), a niece to the family matriarch, Mrs Janet Mpofu (99), said some relatives had considered consulting traditional healers and prophets over the incident, but the family ended up deciding not to do so.
She said the family’s homestead still resembles a post-funeral venue as neighbours continue visiting to console the family.
Mrs Moyo said both male and female family members numbering eight have been sleeping in the same room since last Sunday to monitor each other as there are fears that some may fail to deal with the loss.
“We are in a difficult situation, for now, batshayekile abadala and we are monitoring them just in case someone has a negative thought about it.
We are not blaming anyone because it was just a mistake.
My grandmother is 99 years old and will be turning 100 next February and she was so much dependent on the cattle as she cannot move much.
They used cattle for water and firewood gathering so this will affect us in a big way,” she said.
“When you come to our homestead, you will be forgiven for thinking that we are mourning a person who died.
The community is coming in to support us, some are providing water and every necessary thing.
My two uncles and grandmother have not moved much and have not yet resumed any duties because they are still coming to terms with the loss.”
Mrs Moyo said she almost fainted when she received the news of the death of the cattle.
“I was coming from seeing a relative who is not feeling well when I received a phone call about the death of the cattle.
They told me ukuthi sekulomonakalo ngapha so I initially thought maybe it was a person who had died and when they told me that 18 cattle had died my heart skipped.
When I arrived two more died,” she said.
“We are a big family and when this happened due to its devastating impact, some suggested we go and find out what happened from inyanga and prophets.
We reasoned together as a united family since some of us are Christians and we view this as isilingo that befell the family.
There was just a breakdown of communication and nothing more.”
Mrs Moyo said a deadly grain protectant was sent home in May two days before schools opened and the person who delivered it told the family that they were tablets for dozing cattle.
She said Mr Orderly Mpofu who administered the “doze” initially questioned it as it was not like the other tablets he was used to.
“Because he was doubting, he asked one of his daughters-in-law to read and explain to him what was written but it seems she failed to understand.
Even the person who was assisting him did not know about it.
I was also hoping to doze my cattle once they finish dozing theirs and the number could have been much bigger,” she said.
Mrs Moyo said so far, they have not received any help but there are some people who have phoned consoling the family.
She said the family is open to any assistance from well-wishers to help them cope with the loss.
“My grandmother is old and the cattle were making it easy for those taking care of her to do that.
She will feel the impact more and those taking care of her.
The cattle were buried in a long and deep trench that was dug inside the kraal and that will always be in our minds.
We have agreed as a family that if there are people who may want to assist us, we welcome such a gesture.
Those willing to help anyhow can reach me on 0713 449 636,” she said.
Efforts to get a comment from Matabeleland North provincial veterinary officer Dr Pollex Moyo were fruitless. – @themkhust.