Philip Solomon said he shot a man at a funeral on his farm last week in self defence.
The Sowetan reported today that Solomon was applying for bail in the New Hanover Magistrates’ Court after being held in custody since his arrest on New Year’s Eve.
The farmer allegedly shot a mourner during the funeral of one of the residents of the farm.
The Lembethe family, who have been living on Solomons’s farm for more than 50 years, are still shocked about the events that took place at the funeral of the family member Jabulani (Jay) Lembethe, last Saturday.
Mpilo Madonsela (16), one of Jabulani’s cousins, explained that guests started to arrive at the funeral from about 8am in the morning. Madonsela said about 150 singing and crying people had arrived.
At about 1pm, Solomon allegedly stormed into the funeral and began trying to chase away those attending.
According to Madonsela, Solomon was dressed in a brown army jacket with a cap on his head. The jacket’s hood was pulled over the cap, and only Solomon’s long white beard stuck out. He was armed with a 9mm pistol.
David Ngubane (50), Lembethe’s brother-in-law, said Solomon was furious.
“When nobody listened, he began firing at Jay’s grave.”
People scattered in all directions but a friend of the family, Mothiwa “Mothi” Ngubane tried to push down Solomon’s firearm in an attempt to stop the shooting.
“It looked as if he was going to stop shooting and he put the gun in the pistol of his jacket.
“When Mothi turned around and walked away he shot him with the gun still in his jacket pocket. Once in the back of his head and twice in his back.
“He died right there, next to Jabulani’s open grave,” Madonsela said.
After Solomon was arrested, the family returned to fill in the grave.
Family members told City Press’ sister publication Rapport that they gave Solomon notice of the funeral beforehand.
They asked the police to tell Guy Solomon, Philip’s brother and co-owner of the farm, because they were too afraid of Philip.
“Nobody (from the family) contacted me. They contacted the police directly and the officers let me know about the funeral,” said Guy.
“I sent Philip a WhatsApp, but I doubt he saw it. He probably didn’t know about the funeral and that’s why it might have caught him offside.”
Guy and the Solomons’ attorney, Anusa Ganas, denied that the Lembethes had permission to have a funeral on the farm.
Birgit Oegger, a neighbour who runs Kwela Lodge in the Otto’s Bluff region, said they did not have a good relationship with Philip.
“Philip has always been a problem in this area. He has no friends and he is a loner. A weirdo. Nobody in the area even has photos of him, and all the workers are afraid of him.”
Her husband, Rene, said Philip had threatened various people. According to him, Philip also owned a toy gun that he carried around with him to intimidate people.
Guy said there had been conflict between the Lembethe family and his brother for a long time.
“He really doesn’t get along with the workers who live there. The fact that he was in the Angolan war for too long, also doesn’t help.”
Solomon’s bail hearing continues.