Attempted-murder accused Tumi Mokwena‚ who has acted as EFF leader Julius Malema’s lawyer‚ randomly fired shots at farm workers in a salary dispute‚ the Polokwane High Court heard on Monday.
A security supervisor at Zebediela citrus farm‚ Klaas Mboweni‚ who lost a middle finger in the shooting incident‚ testified that Mokwena did not fire any warning shot before taking aim‚ contradicting the accused’s testimony from the day before.
Mokwena‚ who has pleaded not guilty‚ is facing four counts of attempted murder for allegedly shooting four farm workers in a salary dispute at the farm in Zebediela‚ outside Lebowakgomo‚ in June 2017.
“I was standing in front of the workers who were chanting and calling for Mokwena to come out of the boardroom. While I was busy negotiating for workers to make way for Mokwena‚ I suddenly heard a gunshot coming from behind‚” said Mboweni.
“When I looked back to see who fired the shot‚ I saw Mokwena and I realised I had been shot.”
Mboweni said he saw a few workers fall down after being shot by Mokwena.
“He continued firing at workers and walked past between those who were shot and lying down. He fired more than five shots during the incident‚” he said.
Mboweni told the court his finger was amputated after the shooting.
He is accused of shooting and injuring farm workers Michael Nyathi‚ Maile Mamokhere‚ Tshothwa Kekena and Mboweni.
Mokwena told the court he acted in self-defence because he felt his life was in danger.
“There were more than 300 workers carrying dangerous weapons such as machetes‚ sticks and bricks.
“I drew my firearm because the crowd had already entered my offices. When one of them approached me with a stone‚ I shot at his hand. As I was walking out of the office I aimed at his lower body and I shot him.”
Mokwena accused the state of projecting him as a “savage who is trigger happy”.
He said workers locked the gates and he felt he was being held against his will.
“I fired three warning shots and after workers approached me with sticks and stones I then fired another three‚ aiming at workers because I was under a serious threat. I might have gone beyond self-defence limits but there was no aim to kill anyone.”
Farm general manager Jakobus Swanepoel on Monday testified that it was not necessary for Mokwena to fire shots because there was no threat to his life.
“There were about 30-40 people who were carrying small sticks only. There were no machetes or any dangerous weapons at the scene that could have necessitated Mokwena to draw his firearm and shoot at the workers‚” he said.
Swanepoel further told the court that after the shooting Mokwena drove off and crashed open the gate with his vehicle.