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Village feast turns sour

Caswell Tlali

MASERU – Four children aged between 15 months and 12 years died while 18 adults are in hospital after they ate meat from a stolen cow in Sehlaba-Thebe in Qacha’s Nek on Monday.

Police spokesperson Masupha Masupha said the cow was part of a herd of cattle stolen from a South African farmer by a group of Basotho men.

The farmer, who lives in Matatiele in South Africa which borders Qacha’s Nek, was taking the cattle to his farm when the cow collapsed.

“That farmer left the cow there and continued with the rest of the herd back to South Africa,” Masupha said.

“Residents from a nearby village helped themselves to the meat after the farmer had left.”

 “It is suspected that this cow was sick or perhaps it had been injected with some medicine and therefore could not be eaten.”

The villagers were wrong to eat a cow that did not belong to them, Masupha said.

The villagers’ feast turned sour when almost all who ate the meat showed signs of illness during the night.

There is only one health clinic in Qacha’s Nek which closes at around 4.30 pm but has emergency services during the night.

The problem however is that the clinic is run by nurses.

So when the sick were rushed to the clinic the nurses were not of much help.

The 18 adults had to be rushed to the government hospital in Qacha’s Nek town, about 25 kilometres from Sehlaba-Thebe, for treatment.

It is there that four children died before they could receive medical help.

Cross border stock-theft between Matatiele and Qacha’s Nek is so rampant that the police compound in the district is always teeming with lost or recovered livestock awaiting identification by owners.

Sometimes Basotho men steal from South African villagers who stay just across the border.

Sometimes villagers from South Africa also steal livestock from Basotho farmers.

In most cases the battles have ended in bloodshed as the warring villagers use guns to either recover their cattle or defend their loot.

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