Local news

Stray beast owners can be sued for road accidents: Minister

By Staff Reporter

LOCAL livestock owners who allow their animals to stray onto the country’s major roads causing accidents should foot the resultant damages from their own pockets, a government minister has said.

Addressing backbenchers in parliament this past week, Transport and Infrastructural Development deputy minister Madanha said the burden of compensating the aggrieved parties also fell on owners of the stray animals.

He was responding to Gokwe MP, Dorothy Mangami who had asked if animal owners had a role to play towards the compensation of those who lose property and life in road traffic accidents caused to stray animals.

“The policy says, in the first instance, all roads must have a perimeter fence to prevent wild animals from getting on to the roads,” Madanha said

“But if we look back, we will see that most of this fence was vandalised sometime around the year 2000.

“Right now, animals are getting onto the roads and they are causing accidents.

“In such a case, the owner of the animal is supposed to compensate for the damage caused when that animal collides with a vehicle.”

In commercial areas, he continued, the commercial farmer is supposed to fence his farmland to prevent his animals from straying onto the road.

“That is why we give him responsibility to compensate for any damage caused due to collision between his animals and any vehicle that might be transiting,” he said.

Most of the country’s highways were stripped of perimeter fencing during the country’s chaotic land reform process which saw former white land owners thrown out of their land since 2000.

Since the time, the country has seen a spike in devastating road accidents blamed on stray domestic and wild animals.

In 2016, a Tombs Motorways bus ploughed into 24 head of cattle that had strayed on the busy Harare-Bulawayo highway, killing 18 in the process.

In 2013, then National Railways of Zimbabwe general manager Retired Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai died when his Pajero he was driving hit a stray cow and overturned near Shangani.

Gary Murambiwa
the authorGary Murambiwa