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R500m lawsuit for infected buffalo

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‘Unyati is now clean and TB free. Every single animal has been tested and not one is positive for TB.”

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A R500 million lawsuit has been instituted against various government departments by well-known Northern Cape game breeder, Jaco Troskie, who claims that he was knowingly sold a TB-infected buffalo at a state auction.

Troskie yesterday told the DFA that he bought the buffalo, El Torro, at a state auction at Madikwe in the North West during 2011 for an amount of R6.9 million.

The buffalo was brought from the North West to the Northern Cape and it was bred with several female animals on Troskie’s wildlife reserve, Unyati Wildlife, just outside Warrenton.

However, in 2014, he was contacted by a state veterinarian from the Northern Cape “out-of-the-blue” and asked if he had bought any animals at the Madikwe auction, as there was a suspicion that some of the animals (which originally came from KwaZulu/Natal) were infected with TB.

During this time, the Northern Cape Department of Agriculture placed Unyati Wildlife under quarantine for three years.

El Torro died while being tested for TB and a postmortem indicated that the animal had contracted TB.

According to Troskie, his buffalo was one of eight animals bought at the auction that were infected with TB and four other breeders have also initiated legal action, that equate (together with his
R500 million claim) to a lawsuit against the state of about R1 billion.

The case will be heard in the Pretoria High Court.

He alleges that government departments intentionally falsified initial documents to hide the real status of the animals.

“That auction should never have taken place and the (infected) animals should never have been allowed to move cross-province. I didn’t think that anything could be wrong, as it was a state auction that should have followed proper procedures. It should have been of the highest standards.

“Original documents from 2011, which were only later uncovered, indicated that the animals tested positive for TB (at the time of the auction),” he said.

Damages

Troskie added that he had initiated a lawsuit of R500 million against the departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Environmental Affairs, for damages he incurred, not only during the quarantine period (during which he was prevented from selling or moving any animals) and the death of El Torro, but as well as to his reputation as a reputable breeder.

The quarantine was lifted late last year after the Northern Cape High Court found that the quarantine order was invalid and that Inyati had been TB free since 2015.

Troskie yesterday said that the order was found to be invalid, as the veterinarian involved was not authorised to practice and that the document was invalid.

He added that was “only by the grace of God” that no other animals on his reserve were infected with TB.

“After several tests, that cost in the region of R20 million, all the animals on the reserve were declared TB free,” Troskie said.

The animals included all the females that came into contact with El Torro, as well as their young.

‘Unyati is now clean and TB free. Every single animal has been tested and not one is positive for TB.”