A homeless Bulawayo man has been skinning carcasses of dogs that would have been put down by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and selling the meat to some residents.
The SPCA puts down severely diseased dogs or those that would have been ill-treated to an extent that it would be cruel to let them live.
Bargain hunters in the city have been unwittingly enjoying dog cuisine that is served 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 (BCC) health inspectors on Thursday raided his backyard butchery near the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) Steam Shed and allegedly confiscated about 100kg of packaged dog meat.
It could not be established why Ndebele was not arrested.
The local authority’s senior public relations officer, Mrs Nesisa Mpofu, had by the time of going to print, not responded to questions emailed to her on Friday.
Ndebele said he has been selling dog meat since the beginning of this year. He drew most of his customers from surrounding suburbs of Sizinda and Mpopoma.Most of them, Ndebele said, 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 pack of dried meat and take some of the meat to my in-laws in Nkayi,” he 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.
Locals find it unthinkable that a dog can be eaten. They consider the animals as family pets and some actually regard them as family members.
However, dog meat is a delicacy in countries like China, parts of Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Morocco and Nigeria. Online reports estimate that about 25 million dogs are eaten by humans annually worldwide.
A source who works at the NRZ Steam Shed, where Ndebele resides, said officials from the SPCA and 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 the source who declined to be named.
SPCA animal inspector Mr Dumisani Sibanda suspects that Ndebele is mentally disturbed.
“If it was a normal person doing this, I would have been in a position to say much,” he said. “All I can say is that there is a place where city council dug pits to dispose dead dogs and it is suspected that he digs 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, agrees with Ndebele that 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.