SEVEN people have been arrested in connection with the attack on Limpopo Chief Mashile Phasha, who was allegedly caught stealing goats two weeks ago.

The suspects were also accused of setting Phasha's car alight.

The incident happened on March 12 at Malomanye village in Atok in the Sekhukhune area.

Community members allegedly woke up to a strange sound and on investigating allegedly found Phasha stealing goats.

They attacked him with all sorts of objects, including stones. His double-cab Ford Ranger was torched by the villagers.

Phasha, the self-proclaimed chief of the Baroka-ba-ga-Nkwana, was allegedly found in possession of two goats.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Mohale Ramatseba yesterday said the seven suspects were: James Mengwai, 41, Moeti Madikologe, 70, Moeti Kgagabi, 32, Makgalaka Moswane, 31, Samuel Mashuko, 36, Caroline Makgathi, 42, and Naka Phaladi, 55.

They were all refused bail when they appeared in the Sekhukhune magistrate's court last Friday. The case was postponed to Friday for a formal bail application.

Ramatseba said they were charged with attempted murder and damage to property.

He said Phasha would face charges of stock theft as soon as he was discharged from hospital.

Phasha is not new to controversy. He was found by the community in Tooseng outside Lebowakgomo while allegedly stealing goats two years ago. The case was thrown out of court due to an alleged lack of evidence.

He allegedly appointed himself chief after the death of his brother, Aubrey Phasha, in 2003.

He was arrested for stealing a car in Randburg, Johannesburg, in 2007 and also for being in possession of unlicensed firearms and a stolen Mercedes-Benz in 2007.

But Phasha's right-hand man, Steve Phasha, said yesterday that the chief was a victim of community conflicts.

"Chief Phasha's attack was fuelled by community conflicts resulting from fights for chieftainship and succession to the throne," he said.