A white 77-year old Limpopo farmer has been arrested for shooting at a group of black people who were fishing, claiming he mistook them for hippos.
The incident happened on Tuesday afternoon at a river near Mamojela Park, an informal settlement outside the mining town of Lephalale, where the group had been fishing since the morning.
Linah Motlenelwa, 39, was transferred to a more advanced Polokwane health facility on Wednesday after spending a night at the Elisras Hospital where she was admitted and treated after the incident.
The mother of two who occasionally fishes to sustain her family suffered a bullet wound to her arm.
Limpopo police spokesperson Lt-Col Mamphaswa Seabi confirmed the incident and that the farmer will appear in the Lephalale magistrate’s court on attempted murder charges.
“A 77-year old farmer has been arrested and detained for attempted murder. The farmer alleges that he was shooting at hippopotamus when a woman was shot. We don’t know if he was really shooting at hippopotamus (sic) and missed but ultimately a human suffered injuries,” Seabi said.
Motlenelwa’s partner Piet Lefawane, 38, who was also fishing in the river at the time of the incident, said the farmer fired at them twice with the second shot hitting the mother of his children in her lower left arm.
“We had been fishing at the river from around 10am before the farmer, who was on the other side of the river, decided to open fire on us for no apparent reason,” Makola said.
Lefawane said the incident happened at about 2pm.
“We don’t know the farmer, he doesn’t know us but he just decided to shoot at us,” Makola said
“When police went to arrest him, I heard him tell them that he had been shooting at monkeys and hippos when he shot at us,” Lefawane said.
He said they regularly fish in the river that separates the informal settlement from the farm, for food and trading as they are not employed.
Lefawane said the farmer is known in their community as a gun-toting old man who often fires his firearm for no reason.
“Apparently, he would just discharge his firearm and shoot widely with people often running for cover. For me this was the first time that I experience it,” Lefawane said.
The EFF’s Waterberg co-ordinator Jeanette Komane, who spent time with Lefawane at the hospital on Wednesday, said the party would try its best to ensure that Motlenelwa gets the best care.
“Our main aim is to give support to the victim. She now needs an orthopaedic specialist, which this hospital doesn’t have,” Komane said.
“We are doing everything to secure the safety and wellbeing of the victim and we are in the process to see what we can do to find her better healthcare.”