“WTF…is no animal safe from Chinese plates? I’ve never heard of this before!”
They scoured Kutsimleni under Mfangimbhekile Umphakatsi until they eventually got two donkeys from a Motsa homestead situated next to the chief’s compound.
Residents became suspicious of the unfamiliar men in the area asking for donkeys and grilled them as to what exactly they wanted to do with the animals.
This is mainly because Chinese are also known to eat both dog and cat meat. The community members were also concerned that they knew the Chinese had no fields in the area or anywhere nearby to use the animals for traction since they did not own any land.
The residents also said they were suspicious because the Chinese appeared to be coming from far and therefore, could not drive the donkeys by themselves since they also did not come on a truck.
The Chinese had told the community that they wanted to carry the animals with them as soon as they paid for them.
To the surprise of the people, the men said they were badly craving for donkey meat and they wanted to kill the animal and carry the carcasses to a butchery to be sliced.
In an interview with one of the donkey owners, who asked not to be named, said he was surprised when he saw the strange men walking to his home. He said at first he thought they might have been kidnapped because he had never seen a Chinese national volunteer in the country.
“With their poor English, they explained their mission and I told them to forget it.
“I told them I would not sell any of my donkeys to them because they also said they would need my assistant in killing and skinning them.
Later on, they showed me a piece of paper with information about a certain community member who, I suppose, was where they were to buy the donkeys, but because maybe they were too hungry, they failed to follow the instruction and when they saw my donkeys, they decided to pay me a visit,” he said.
Asked why he refused to sell the donkeys, the farmer said all he knew was that a donkey meat was inedible thus he regarded it a taboo when they came to his place. He said he was irked by the offer for each donkey, stressing that E400 was not enough because even a goat costs more than that. Nowadays goats cost at least E600 each.
The man, who eventually sold his donkeys for E800 (E400 each), on the other hand, said he needed the money and had enough donkeys to worry about giving away only two.
The old man, on crutches, refused to have his picture taken nor give his name, but we later learnt that he was a Motsa.
“I do not want my pictures taken please respect me. I wonder what is wrong with selling my donkeys to people who want them. They said they were craving for the donkey meat and because I had enough I gave them my two donkeys,” he said.
Efforts to get comments from the Chinese men proved futile because of their poor English.
Residents assist in skinning
Some brave community members assisted the Chinese men to kill and skin the donkeys they bought from the Motsa man.
They were given instructions on how to kill them while they (Chinese men) stood from a distance and watched with folded arms.
They first rode the animals to a nearby mini bush, where, one of them was tied to a big tree; the back of an axe was used to hit the back of its head.
The animal was not moved by the first hit though it was very strong, but one could see it moving a bit while shaking its head probably in pain. However, the second hit was too strong for the animal to bear that it went down on its knees, its tail raised up and finally died. Curious community members had gathered at the scene to witness the killing, but were too scared to see the animal die.
“Most of us closed our eyes with both hands. I have never seen an animal killed like this. some people said even pigs are killed this way, but I still do not believe it.
“The Chinese men were not moved by the whole incident,” he said.
Observed during the skinning of the animal was that its intestines were larger than those of a cow and its meat more red than beef.
Agriculture ministry to investigate
The ministry of agriculture will launch investigations about the issue of the sold and killed donkeys.
Minister Clement Dlamini said he had since instructed veterinarians from the ministry to investigate the matter and visit the area where it happened.
“The challenge is that in this country, donkeys are not eaten and therefore there is no law regulating their use as food or how they are moved from one area to another. If they die we simply bury the carcass.
“Even then I think the people who bought the donkey should have got a carcass permit when transporting it,” he said.
He wondered where the donkey was sliced and stated that it was the first time he heard that some people eat donkeys.
In an interview with one of the Chinese man, he said simply cut it himself with an axe.
He refused to give his name and threatened to cut the call.
According to information sourced from the internet, a few donkeys are milked or raised for meat in Italy, which has the highest consumption of equine meat in Europe and where donkey meat is the main ingredient of several regional dishes. Only about 1 000 donkeys were slaughtered in 2010, yielding approximately 100 tonnes of meat. “Only?”
Asses’ milk may command good prices: the average price in Italy in 2009 was €15 per litre, and a price of €6 per 100 ml was reported from Croatia in 2008; it is used for soaps and cosmetics as well as dietary purposes. “Ugh…I didn’t know that, but I do know I have never used any; well I bloody hope I haven’t, especially on vacations around Italy etc. I’m virtually vegan so don’t touch any animal products; if I know that is!”
The niche markets for both milk and meat are expanding. In the past, donkey skin was used in the production of parchment. “Didn’t know that either!”