MASOKA DUBE and CHESTER MAKANA
A PROMINENT Limpopo lawyer is wanted by the police in connection with the shooting of four farm workers at Zebediela outside Mokopane on Thursday morning.
Tumi Mokwena, former EFF leader Julius Malema’s lawyer, allegedly shot four of his employees at the Zebediela Citrus Farm before fleeing the scene.
Limpopo police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe confirmed the incident and called on Mokwena to hand himself over to the Zebediela police.
The shooting incident comes after months of squabbles between Mokwena and some of the beneficiaries of the R60 million citrus estate over shareholding, directorship and wages.
Members of the Bjatladi Community Property Association (CPA) – the beneficiaries of a land claim – had accused Mokwena, their lawyer, of having hijacked their estate and appointed himself as a director without their knowledge.
During its heydays, in the late 1990’s Zebediela was one the biggest producers and exporters of oranges in the country.
Sources told African Times that the incident was preceded by a heated meeting between Mokwena and Bjatladi community members over wages and ownership.
“When Mokwena became the owner of the farm some time ago, he needed favours from some of the employees, whom he skyrocketed their salaries from R3000, some from R6000 to R60 000 a month. So, when the new partners came in, they decided to cut down the salaries of Mokwena’s friends,” said one of the sources.
“So, this morning Mokwena went to the farm to solve his friends’ salary problems, then some employees who were always not happy with him, spotted him and started to protest and chased him away. He then pulled out a gun, shot them and sped off.”
Ngoepe said the victims have been admitted to the Lebowakgomo Hospital with serious gunshot injuries.
One of them was in critical condition, he added. African Times and other media organisations were denied access to the hospital on Thursday.
“The suspect had a meeting with some of the employees in this company’s offices and during the meeting, a conflict ensued and subsequently the suspect produced a firearm and shot four protesters aged 30, 50, 52 and 38 before fleeing the scene with his vehicle.
The injured employees were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds for medical treatment after receiving the first aid from the local clinic,” he said in a statement. Ngoepe urged Mokwena to surrender himself to the nearest police station.
“We are calling on the Attorney Tumi Mokoena to avail himself at Zebediela Police Station or to report at the nearest Police Station to assist the Police with their investigations in this matter or he may call LT. Colonel Moshapati Sekanka at 0825658505,” said Ngoepe.
Former Limpopo MPL Ike Kekana, whose mother of one of the Bjatladi CPA members, told African Times earlier this year that he had reported Mokwena to the Law Society of the Northern Province for alleged unethical behaviour in connection with the affairs at the estate.
Mokwena represented Malema in various criminal cases since around 2009.
This included separate cases of outstanding tax and corruption. The former ANC Youth League president later reached a settlement with SARS, while the corruption case was struck off the roll by a court in Polokwane.