Lawyer dies after being shot by gun presented as evidence
A prominent South African barrister has been shot and killed in court after a gun presented as evidence in the trial went off.
Senior state advocate Addelaid Ferreira-Watt died after the freak shooting at the Ixopo Regional Court on Monday when the shotgun dropped and blasted her in the left hip, News24 reported.
"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," a police spokesman told the website.
Court staff desperately tried to stop the bleeding, but the 51-year-old mother-of-one later died in hospital. South African police are investigating a possible case of culpable homicide and are working to find out why the shotgun was still loaded.
"There is absolutely no need for a weapon being submitted in evidence in a court of law to still be capable of being fired," a legal friend of Ms Ferreira-Watt told the UK Mirror.
"The weapon and the ammunition that it had contained at the time of the alleged crime should have been submitted in separate evidence bags, so someone is in big trouble. Addelaid was an excellent lawyer, a devoted mother and a lover of art and animals. For her to be taken away so cruelly and in such a freakish way is just agonising."
Sister-in-law Antoinette Ferreira wrote on Facebook that Addelaid was a "loving and caring mother, a loyal and dear friend, an incredibly smart, intelligent, dynamic resilient and beautiful woman".
"You filled my life with love and humour," she wrote. "We are so shocked you have been taken away in such a terrible way from your loved ones. A lot strength to you Lindsay - your mother loved you so much."
KwaZulu-Natal Director of Public Prosecutions Elaine Zungu issued a notice to staff at the National Prosecuting Authority, Netwerk24 reported.
"Her untimely passing is mourned by all," she said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time. The family has requested that their privacy be respected."