Thursday, May 5, 2022

Black woman shot dead by white South African man who claimed he ‘mistook her for a hippopotamus’

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Farmer Paul Hendrik van Zyl took several potshots at a group of people fishing in a river next to his land and claimed he thought he was shooting at “hippos and monkeys”.

A man has appeared in court after shooting at a couple, injuring one of them and claiming he thought he had “shot at a hippopotamus”.

Paul Hendrik van Zyl, a white South African farmer from the northern province of Limpopo. is charged with attempted murder.

Ramokone Linah was fishing with her partner in a river next to van Zyl’s farm in the town of Lephalale when they suddenly came under fire.

Ms Linah, 38, suffered gunshot wounds to her arm while her partner “managed to hide” before alerting police and emergency services, according to a police report.

When police arrived at the scene, van Zyl claimed he thought the pair were “hippos and monkeys.”

“The arrested suspect claimed he shot the animals,” police spokesman Mamphaswa Seabi said in a statement.

During van Zyl’s arrest, police confiscated two rifles, a revolver, a pistol and two airguns.

According to a local media report, Ms Linah was part of a group of local men and women by the river near Mamojela Park when the incident happened.

After appearing in court, van Zyl was released on bail of 1,000 rand (about £51) and the case was adjourned until May 18 to allow for further investigation

Even today, almost 30 years after the end of apartheid, there are deep racial differences in South Africa. A group of supporters of the anti-racist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) protested in court against van Zyl’s release on bail.

In nearby Letsitele, a farmer shot and wounded a farm worker with an air pistol in 2017 after allegedly mistaking him for a monkey.

Gun ownership is commonplace in South Africa and accidental killings are commonplace.

Targeted shootings are also common. More than 7,000 firearm homicides were reported in the period 2019-2020, according to South African police statistics.

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