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A 77-year-old white South African farm owner appeared in court on Thursday for shooting and wounding a black woman he claimed he mistook for a hippopotamus, police said

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

He 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.

Thirty-eight-year-old  Ramokone Linah sustained gun shot wounds on her arm, while her partner “managed to hide”, police said.

The accused “is the owner of the farm where the incident occurred,” said Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, NPA spokeswoman in the province.

Hendrik was freed on 1,000 rand ($62) bail and the case was postponed for further investigations to May 18.

A group of opposition radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) supporters staged a protest against the granting of bail outside the court, according to the party’s posts on Twitter.

Such incidents normally cause outrage in the country where deep racial divisions persist 28 years after the end of white minority apartheid rule.


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