CAIRO: The prices of donkey, dog and pig meat have risen recently, approaching those of legal meat, as people in poor areas turn to illicit sources of protein amid the soaring cost of living.
In response to demands for cheaper meat, many butchers in poor areas have sought meat at lower prices, such as that taken from the bodies of already dead donkeys, often at the risk of their customers’ health.
The trend had worried health, supply and interior officials, with at least five defendants arrested in less than two months.
As legal experts called for heavier penalties, including the death sentence, some psychologists and sociologists have demanded that severe punishments are needed in order to provide a deterrent. One MP called for energizing the responsible agencies, accusing them of failing to stop what he described as “criminals .
In one recent case, police arrested a butcher who had been selling pig and donkey meat as mutton. He was arrested after a shoot-out, which resulted in the wounding of an officer and a doctor, police say.
Defendant Arandas Gad Al-Rab was arrested on suspicion of slaughtering pigs and donkeys and coloring the meat in red to show that it had been sealed in a slaughterhouse. He then sold the meat to customers as mutton.
Some 115kg of pig meat and 60kg of liver, which were prepared for sale, were found with him.
Earlier, Cairo police say they arrested a dealer in the Al-Zarayib area as he skinned pigs and sold their meat as mutton to the butchers and traders.
Defendant Sayed Said was arrested and confessed to trafficking in pigs and selling their meat as mutton.
Giza police arrested two of the most notorious butchers of donkey and dog meat last month in Kirdasa area. Hours after the accused were arrested, one of them made a full confession and provided police with details of his business practices.
Police say they were seen carrying a bag that had traces of blood on it and contained the thigh of slaughtered donkey. One of the two men confessed that he used to skin donkeys and sell them to the other defendant, Wasfi Sawiris. He revealed the location of their transaction, a factory owned by Wasfi. Some two tons of donkey meat, which were ready for sale, were found in the place.
In Boulaq Al-Dakrour, Giza police arrested a jobless for selling the meat from already-dead animals for profiteering. He is alleged to have sold the meat at a knock-down price, causing people to become suspicious of him and leading to his arrest.
Head of Cairo criminal court counselor Farid Nasr criticized the penalties in such crimes, describing them as lenient. Currently, they do not exceed 10 years in prison, but Nasr argues they should be extended to execution, as such a crime is in effect attempted murder and can lead to diseases including kidney failure and hepatitis.
Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Ain Shams University Dr. Suhair Abdel-Aziz says: “Those traders should be executed in a public square so that they will be an example to those who try to imitate them.
She accused them of seeking quick profits at the expense of innocent lives.
She added: “Traders of dead animal, pig and donkey meat are psychologically ill and suffer numerous diseases. They violate customs and religious teachings.
MP Mohamed Quweita submitted an urgent statement about the phenomenon, accusing the responsible government agencies of failing to deal with the problem.Secret blend of spices used to disguise illegal meat
CAIRO: Two men have been accused of disguising meat from already dead cattle, dogs, donkeys, sheep and buffalo by the addition of spices and potatoes, and then selling to concoction on to kebab and kofta shops.
Defendant Mohamed Mahmoud Khalkifa, 24, who works as a butcher, says that he worked with his alleged partner in crime, Wasfi Sawaris, for six years prior to engaging in their most recent criminal venture.
At first, Khalifa would supply Sawaris with fat so that the latter could mix it with imported meat and sell it in his shop as domestic meat.
Later though, Wasfi asked Mohamed to work with him in supplying the meat of already dead animals found laying in the open. He told Mohamed that nobody would discover their activities, as Wasfi had invented a secret blend of spices and potatoes that he would add to the meat to change its color, taste and smell.
Khalkifa says that he accepted the deal due to personal financial troubles, and began to search for dead cattle, donkeys, dogs, sheep and buffaloes thrown along the banks of canals. He would skin them in his house in Saft Al-Laban district and then sell the meat to Wasfi for LE 5 per kilogram.
Wasfi, for his part, then added his secret blend to the meat and then sold it to kebab and kofta shops for LE 8 per kilogram of minced meat and LE 18 for shawerma.
Wasfi, the key defendant in the case, originally denied this, but after an argument errupted between him and Khalkifa, he relented and confessed to the crime, agreeing also to name others involved, according to police.
Wasfi says that he worked as a financial inspector at the Ministry of Finance. When he retired, he opened a shop in Boulaq Al-Dakrour selling imported meat. Later, he decided to sell the meat of already-dead animals after somebody persuaded him that this business would prove profitable.
The business took off after he invented a mixture of spices and potatoes to disguise the smell and give the meat the color and taste of domestic meat.
He would mince the meat and sell it for LE 8 per kilogram.