A homeless Bulawayo man has allegedly been skinning carcases of dogs that have been put down by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and selling the meat to residents.
The SPCA puts down severely diseased dogs or those that have been ill-treated to an extent that it would be cruel to let them live.
The city’s residents have reportedly been enjoying dog cuisine at low prices at backyard shops. The middle-aged man, only identified as Ndebele, yesterday told The Chronicle he sold dog meat to earn a living.
Bulawayo City Council health inspectors on Thursday raided Ndebele’s backyard butchery near the National Railways of Zimbabwe Steam Shed and allegedly confiscated about 100kg of packaged dog meat.
Ndebele said he has been selling dog meat since the beginning of this year. He said his customers were drawn mainly from surrounding suburbs of Sizinda and Mpopoma. Ndebele said most of the customers bought the meat for resale and they had never asked him which animal the meat belonged to.
“This has become my source of income. I charge $5 for a 10kg sack of dried meat and take some of the meat to my in-laws in Nkayi,” he said.
Ndebele said he also ate the meat and customers with no money gave him chicks in exchange for fresh meat. “I also eat the meat because there is nothing wrong with it and times are tough. I have to survive and my chickens also need feed so I give them offals from the dogs,” said Ndebele. He rears chickens at his illegal shelter.
A source who works at the NRZ steam shed, where Ndebele resides, said officials from the SPCA and Bulawayo City Council (BCC) confiscated the meat and dead dogs found in his possession.
“He makes brisk business as people scramble to buy cheap meat. We are not sure if they eat it or get it for resale. This man is a former teacher. We don’t know how he lost his job,” said a source who declined to be named.
SPCA animal inspector Mr Dumisani Sibanda confirmed the incident and said he suspected Ndebele was mentally disturbed. “If it was a normal person doing this, I would have been in a position to say much,” said Mr Sibanda.
“All I can say is that there is a place where city council dug pits to dispose of dead dogs and it is suspected that he digs out them up.”
A comment could not be obtained from Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango. A medical doctor, who asked not to be named for professional reasons, said there was nothing wrong with eating dog meat.
“It’s actually better than beef because it is low in cholesterol. It does not cause any known sickness. People in this part of the world may not like it because they were socialised to believe it is not edible,” said the doctor.
Dishes made from dog meat are delicacies in some countries.