An elderly person died and 40 others were hospitalised after eating meat from a poisoned cow at Tshandatsha rural village at Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape.
The victims allegedly ate meat from a cow thought to have been bitten by a puff adder.
The victim was a 65-year-old pensioner Nomaindiya Limaphi. The 40 others suffered severe diarrhoea and were taken to a local hospital.
The incident has raised tensions in the area, and the owner of the cow has gone into hiding fearing that relatives of the victims would attack him.
When Sowetan contacted the cow's owner, Mbhungwa Limaphi, who is also related to the deceased, he said he had warned the community not to eat the meat.
"I told them not to eat the cow because I suspected that it had been bitten by a puff adder," said Limaphi.
He suspected that the poison from the snake had affected the cow giving birth.
Locals say the cow was slaughtered at the weekend after it failed to give birth.
The daughter of the deceased, Thobekile, who also ate the meat, said her mother died while they were on their way to St Elizabeth Hospital in Lusikisiki.
"I was also sick when I received the news in the same vehicle that was transporting my mother to hospital."
She said after eating the meat she suffered cold shivers and lost consciousness.
A matron from the hospital said some of the patients were still in a critical condition while a few have been discharged.
Police spokesman Mduduzi Godlwana said Lusikisiki police have also intervened in the matter to ensure that there was peace in the area.
Health environmentalists have been sent to the village to investigate the poison claims. Police continue to investigate the matter.