The controversial Christian evangelist and pro-gun campaigner, who has come to be known as the "paintball pastor" after a Halloween paintball shooting spree on young trick or treaters, appeared briefly in the Goodwood magistrate's court on Tuesday.

Reverend Peter Hammond was charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm after he took his children on what he described as a "counter-Halloween" spree with a paintball gun, after which four children alleged they were hit by paintballs - one in the jaw - in Rosebank, Pinelands and Rondebosch on the evening of October 31.

The case was postponed until February 15.

Hammond, director of the Cape Town's Frontline Fellowship, an organisation dedicated to "missionary outreach", his wife and four children did not approve of Halloween, which they saw as an "occult holiday celebrating human sacrifice, witches and goblins".

After the incident Hammond said he had not touched the gun - that it was accidentally discharged by his 10-year-old son out of "panic", and no malice was intended.

When Hammond's son called out to a boy to ask him if he was a trick or treater, the boy came over to the car, saw the paintball gun, swore at Hammond's son and tried to pull it out of his hands.

The gun went off, and Hammond drove away.

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 been accused of gun-running for rebels in Sudan, ministering to right-wing Unita rebels in Angola and of assisting the right-wing Renamo movement fighting a South African-backed civil war against Mozambique's Frelimo government in the apartheid years.

He is well-known for his vocal and written opposition to homosexuality, pornography, communism, militant Islam, abortion and to what he says is "humanism" in state schools.

In the flurry of letters the newspaper received in the wake of the report, Hammond was alternately described as a "bully", an "irresponsible parent", a "pseudo-Christian" as well as a "committed father and husband", "law-abiding citizen", and a prolific speaker and writer with "valuable input on current issues". - Staff Writer