A South African lawyer was shot dead in court on Monday by a weapon allegedly being presented as evidence.
Addelaid Ferreira Watt, 51, was killed after the gun on display fell and fired a round in her direction in the Ixopo regional court.
According to local reports, the weapon was purported evidence in a home robbery case, police spokesperson Brig. Jay Naicker said in a statement.
“It is alleged that the weapon was brought to court to be entered as evidence in a house robbery case when it accidentally discharged in court,” he said.
Watt was shot in the hip and died that afternoon after being rushed to hospital, the officer explained, adding that no further information could be released during the investigative period.
The incident is being treated by police in Umzimkhulu as a culpable homicide (illegal killing of a person either with or without an intention to kill that may not qualify as murder or manslaughter).
Elaine Zungu, director of public prosecutions in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, confirmed Watt’s death on Monday.
“It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing on November 18 of senior state advocate Addelaid Ann Ferreira Watt of the office of the director of public prosecutions, Pietermaritzburg,” Zungu said in a statement.
Lindsay Ann Watt, who appears to be Watt’s daughter, updated her Facebook photo the day after her mother’s death.
It’s a photo of her and Watt, along with a translated caption that reads: “My dearest person, my heroine, my best friend, my mentor, my pillar, my life… but, above all — my mommy.”
Many supporters have shared their condolences underneath the photo, with one person writing: “Stay strong my friend. Thinking about you.”
Another person, translated from Afrikaans, wrote: “She was loved by everyone. Good luck and love.”
One of Watt’s Facebook friends shared a photo of her in her lawyer’s robe on Tuesday, along with some touching remarks.
“You were taken too soon … You will be dearly missed, Addelaid Ferreira Watt,” he captioned the photo. “Shall miss your messages of encouragement and kind words filled with love. RIP … My condolences to all family and friends.”
Her sudden death remains under investigation.