Mass Killing Caused by Dispute Over Price of Cattle
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ A family quarrel over the price of cattle triggered a rampage by a gunman that left nine people dead and 19 wounded in a rural town, police said today.
Police Capt. Mike Apelgryn said Kallie Delport argued Monday with his father, Marthiens Delport, over the price the older man accepted for some cattle that morning. The son said the price was too low, police said.
Police allege the son got an assault rifle and shot and killed his father and three other people on the family farm, including a young herd boy. They say he also set fire to the farmhouse.
Delport, a 30-year-old white man, then went to the nearby town of Ladysmith and randomly shot people at a shopping mall in one of the bloodiest mass killings in South African history, police said.
″It was chaos. I think he went bonkers. He just shot at anyone he saw,″ said Bonny York, a local shopowner.
Delport was described as having a history of mental illness by the South African Press Association.
The gunman then returned to his yellow pickup truck and sped away with police in pursuit, witnesses said. ″He kept on shooting wildly at anyone he saw while he was driving,″ York said.
After a brief chase, the man stopped his truck and waged a gun battle with police before he was apprehended, the witnesses added. A traffic officer was among those killed.
Police said they found 2,000 rounds of unused ammunition in the man’s truck.
In this heavily armed and violent country, there are often cases in which a white man turns a gun on his family.
South Africa also has experienced racially motivated shootings in recent years, and officials worry that such attacks could spark retaliatory violence. There were white, black and Indian victims in Monday’s shooting spree.
However, no one disputed the police assessment of the attack.
Police Minister Hernus Kriel urged ″all sectors of the Ladysmith community to remain calm and not to overreact or take steps which could result in any form of conflict whatsoever.″
Ladysmith, 190 miles southeast of Johannesburg, is in Natal Province, the scene of bitter fighting between rival black factions in recent years.