A prominent senior state advocate died after a gun, displayed in court as an exhibit, was accidentally discharged in the Ixopo regional court on Monday.
KwaZulu-Natal director of public prosecutions Elaine Zungu confirmed that advocate Addelaid Ann Ferreira Watt died on Monday.
It is understood the gun fell and a shot went off, hitting the advocate in her leg in what has been described as "freak accident".
“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," said Zungu.
"Her untimely passing is mourned by all. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time. The family has requested that their privacy be respected," Zungu said in the bereavement notice to staff.
A case of culpable homicide was being probed after the apparent freak shooting, KZN police confirmed.
The weapon – believed to be a loaded shotgun – was brought to court as evidence.
"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," said Brigadier Jay Naicker.
He said that the 51-year-old later died in hospital. "She was taken to hospital after she was struck by a bullet on the left of the hip."
"Unfortunately, we cannot divulge further information as the investigations are at a sensitive stage," he said.
By Tuesday morning, numerous messages of condolence had been posted on the woman's Facebook page.
“I am totally shocked, words can't express how devastated I am,” one friend wrote.
Another said the prosecutor's death was “unnecessary”.
While news of her untimely death spread, the woman’s Facebook profile was flooded with messages of condolences.
“ I can't believe this! All our hearts are broken. My deepest condolences to all her closest friends and family,” wrote one of her friends.
Another friend wrote, “Sincere condolences to family and friends. Rest in peace beautiful lady. You will be missed.”
You were taken too soon. You will be dearly missed Addelaid Ferreira-Watt. Shall miss your messages of encouragement and kind words filled withe love. RIP. My condolences to all family and friends," wrote another of her friends.