Livestock farmer Jean Bacchus, who the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) said has been rearing and slaughtering pigs inside of Le Repentir Cemetery, has been served with an eviction notice, although she maintains she has done nothing wrong.
“We are not rearing pigs in the cemetery… The burial ground is far from here. We are behind the dump. Nobody was ever buried here,” Bacchus told Stabroek News.
Town Clerk Royston King on Tuesday told this newspaper that the M&CC has given Bacchus two weeks’ notice to remove the pigs from the area. King explained that if the owner failed to comply, the M&CC would be forced to remove the pigs.
He also pointed out that this is the second notice for the year being served to Bacchus for the removal of the animals.
Bacchus acknowledged that she has received a notice but said she is hoping that the council will have compassion if she does not find a suitable place in time to relocate her pigs.
“I am trying to get a place. I was supposed to get a piece of land in Mocha but I went to meet the man who owns it and he was not around. I am just asking for some time…,” she said.
Bacchus noted that she has been operating at the Princes Street location, behind the National Gymnasium, for over 16 years without any objection from the council. She stated that after her husband died some years ago, she began to farm at the location, in the vicinity of the dump site.
“I used this farm to mine me and meh children. All them years nobody never said nothing to me. I got permission to use here but I cannot find the paper after all them years this…,” she said, while questioning the sudden move by the council.
“I see they said that the pigs pulling away bones. But you see [showing the reporter] where the pigs are? Right in this piece of land they stay. Where I am here is far from where they are burying people…,” the woman disclosed.
“Then I see they say I have 400 pigs here. That is not the case, I have about 65 pigs here, that is it and when they grow I sell them… I don’t keep them here…,” she added.
At present 10 sows and 65 piglets are on the farm. Bacchus also noted that a few of the sows will give birth within a few days. She noted that if she moves the pregnant sows now, it might distress them, which she does not want.
She further stated that the sty was cleaned at least three times a day and that neighbours had never complained about a stench or objected to her rearing the pigs.
Asked if they slaughter pigs at the location, she said yes but explained that they had only done so after the slaughtering room at the municipal abattoir became non-functional.
The farm has approximately four pens and is equipped with running water. The area that housed the pens was heavily concreted, indicating that the operation has been around for a number of years.
Bacchus also disclosed that the municipality’s Environmental Officer has never identified any unsanitary practices but on one occasion had warned her to desist from slaughtering pigs at the location and she complied.
At the M&CC’s last statutory meeting for March, constituency councillor Monica Thomas mentioned Bacchus’ operation, which sparked a debate among councillors.
Thomas had said that the rearing and slaughtering of pigs in the cemetery posed a health risk to residents of the surrounding areas.
APNU+AFC Councillor Oscar Clarke had, however, called on the council to work with other agencies and advise the farmer what needs to be done to set up a legitimate operation. He noted that while the council is looking to safeguard the health of residents, it should also consider the livelihood of the farmer.
After much deliberations, Mayor Patricia Chase-Green had instructed King to serve a notice to the farmer informing of her breach and the measures that would be taken if she failed to comply.