• 77-year-old Paul Hendrik van Zyl, was arrested on Tuesday this week after firing shots in the direction of the black woman.

• Paul Hendrik van Zyl alleged that he thought he was shooting at monkeys and hippos

in a file photo
Shocked monkey in a file photo
Image: Photo by Jamie Haughton on Unsplash

Tragic reports are emerging from South Africa where a 77-year-old white South African man appeared in court on Thursday for shooting and wounding a black woman he claimed he mistook for a hippopotamus.

The farm owner, Paul Hendrik van Zyl, was arrested on Tuesday this week after firing shots in the direction of the woman who was fishing with her partner in a river in Lephalale town, northern Limpopo province.

Paul now faces attempted murder charges, according to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

"The arrested suspect alleged that he was shooting at the animals (hippopotamus)," police spokesman Mamphaswa Seabi said in a statement.

Meanwhile, 38-year-old Ramokone Linah sustained gunshot wounds on her arm, while her partner "managed to hide", police said.

Paul Hendrik van Zyl "is the owner of the farm where the incident occurred," said Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, NPA spokeswoman in the province said.

According to a local media report, Ramokone was part of a group of local men and women who had been fishing in a river near Mamojela Park, an informal settlement outside the mining town of Lephalale, since mid-morning.

The shooting occurred in the early afternoon. Some eyewitnesses said that Paul had shot at the group the other riverbank.

He was allegedly heard telling police that he had aimed at what he thought were “hippos and monkeys”.

Hendrik was freed on 1,000 rand (Sh 7,182) bail and the case was postponed for further investigations to May 18.

The radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) supporters staged a protest against the granting of bail outside the court.

This incident is similar to one that occurred 5 years ago when a South African farmer was accused of wounding a farm worker with a pellet gun after “mistaking him for a monkey”

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