Controversial pro gun campaigner and ardent Christian evangelist Peter Hammond stated that he was charged with assault after organizing an anti-Halloween paintball gun shooting spree.
Currently serving as the director of the Cape Town based Frontline Fellowship, a "missionary outreach" organization, Hammond appeared in the Goodwood Magistrate's court to face the charges.
"It was not intentional and not malicious," said Hammond; an ardent opponent of South Africa's gun control laws.
An Occult Holiday
In an interview, Hammond said that his wife and four children including himself, do not approve of Halloween. The Hammond family believes that Halloween is an "occult holiday celebrating human sacrifice, witches and goblins".
Hammond went on further to state that his children asked him to do a "counter Halloween", and he agreed and devised a plan to drive the children around the neighborhood to fire paintballs at trick or treating kids on Halloween.
"It was meant to be a joke: nobody was meant to get hurt," Hammond said.
"I laid down a few ground rules: we were just going for teenagers, no kids."
Hammond stated that his son, who is 10 years old, first shot at kids who threw trash in the street as a Halloween prank. The shots were fired low and from a distance. The son then called another child to the car, inquired as to whether he was a trick or treater. The boy then saw the paintball gun, yelled obscenities at the family and the gun went off. Hammond quickly then drove away.
Hammond's 12 year old daughter was in the back of the car and stated that she saw the boy who was shot with the paintball gun in the face, rubbing his jaw.
"With hindsight it would have been better to go back, but he didn't look in great pain that I could see," Hammond said.
Hammond said that he was shocked when an article appeared in the community newspaper asking the community to help the police find the unidentified shooter. Hammond quickly phoned the boy and his family and then the police where he arranged to turn himself in.
"Somehow or other this accident is being interpreted as a malicious adult going around shooting people," Hammond stated.
"Categorically, I can say I never handled a paintball or shot anyone that night. It was a case of a small boy (his son) panicking. I take full responsibility for a bad judgment call. I've apologized to everyone I can. We want to meet the parents and apologize, but so far they've not been willing to meet with us, spoke Hammond."
"We feel terrible that anyone got hurt, but it really was an accident."
Many fundamentalist Christians believe Halloween, with its pagan origins, is a celebration of the "powers of darkness".
Some describe it as "an evil day of Satan", and say participation sends a message to children that witchcraft, demonism, Satanism, and the occult are fun, entertaining and harmless.
They also believe even normally well-behaved children are driven by "unseen forces" to destructive behaviour and vandalism at Halloween.
Hammond is described on the Fellowship website as a missionary who has pioneered evangelistic outreaches in war zones of Mozambique, Angola and Sudan.
He has also been accused of gun- running for rebels in Sudan, and of assisting the Renamo movement when it was fighting a South African-backed civil war against Mozambique's Frelimo government in the apartheid years.
Hammond is known for his opposition to homosexuality, pornography, communism, militant Islam, and to what he says is "humanism" in state schools.