“IT WAS absolute chaos!” This is how Phyllis Sephton-Borrowdale described the scene on a mountain crest in the Barkly East area where respected farmer and DA councillor Michael Moore, 59, and his son John, believed to be in his 30s, were killed in a horrific attack on his family by black wildebeest at the weekend.
The attack left Moore’s daughter Julie, 22, with critical head and face injuries, and yesterday she underwent an operation at Mediclinic Hospital in Bloemfontein. Her mother, Adele, managed to escape unharmed.
The family, of the farm Mondamin near Maclear, runs tourism and agricultural enterprises.
An emotional Sephton-Borrowdale chairwoman of the DA in the Maclear region and a close friend of the Moore family, particularly Adele Moore, said yesterday she had received a frantic cellphone call for help from Adele at about 12.30pm on Saturday following the attack.
“It was absolute chaos. This was an extremely shocking event. Adele had been hiking with her husband, son and daughter. I don’t want to go into specifics because I was not there. But I understand they were hiking from one of their farms to another.
“They had apparently hiked up a mountain in the direction of Rhodes … to a crest where the attack took place. Adele called me from on top of the mountain. I then tried to assist immediately.”
Sephton-Borrowdale said Maclear residents were in shock over the incident.
“The Moores are a highly regarded family and they are well known in the broader community. This is a terrible thing; I have known the Moores for many, many years.
“Adele is obviously in a state of shock, as are the rest of the Moore family and their friends. For one family to lose a father and a son in one incident, that is absolutely terrible.
“Besides John, who was well known for his work with horses, and Julie, Mike had three other sons, Dave, who farmed with his father, Luke and Robin.
“They have come to be with the family. Michael was an outstanding citizen; he was a hero in our community.”
Sephton-Borrowdale said Michael had been active in projects to uplift members of his community, particularly the poor. One of the projects involved supplying electricity to schools in the area.
“He was also a successful farmer and was known for breeding Bonsmara cattle.”
A resident in the area, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to having close ties with the family, said it was believed the family had been attacked initially by one wildebeest and then by another.
“We are not yet sure exactly what happened. Some farmers are known to keep wildebeest as a deterrent against stock theft. There is a strong, close farming community in the area. The farmers rallied together to go to the family’s rescue,” the resident said. Emergency services, including a helicopter, had been called to assist.
Asked whether the men had been killed instantly, the source said it was believed they had not died immediately.
Elliot police spokes- woman Captain Ursula Roelofse said the family had come across a herd of wildebeest and the two men had been trampled to death.
“While the incident happened earlier in the day, the police were notified only at about 3pm on Saturday.
“They were not involved in assisting the family. As this does not involve a crime, nobody has been charged. An inquest docket has been opened.” She said according to information she received, two wildebeest had broken away from the herd and then attacked the family.
A number of messages of condolence were posted on the Moores’ Facebook pages yesterday.
The family could not be reached for comment.