Hawks officer in trouble after nephew, 13, fatally shoots himself

A 43-year-old warrant officer attached to the Limpopo provincial Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) has been charged with contravening the Firearms Control Act after his nephew allegedly killed himself using the officer’s firearm.

“This after his 13-year-old nephew allegedly shot himself with his (Hawks officer’s) official firearm at Shayandima in Thohoyandou on Monday, 21 June 2021 at about 16:30,” said Limpopo spokesperson for the SAPS, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo.

The police said the child reportedly accessed his uncle’s firearm, a 9mm Z88 service pistol that the uncle had allegedly left in the room, and shot himself in the head. He died instantly.

Limpopo police commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembi Hadebe has “strongly condemned the incident of keeping a firearm in contravention of existing law” that resulted in the loss of life.

“The firearm may not be kept anywhere except in a locked safe or carried in a holster that is worn by or attached to the person of the holder when it is not in use. The member will then be dealt with accordingly,” said Hadebe.

Police in Limpopo said it was unclear whether the child had accidentally shot himself or taken his own life. An inquest has been opened and police investigations are under way.

In 2019, the police at Mankweng opened a case of murder after a 12-year-old boy fatally shot his three-year-old brother at Makgeng village, gaMolepo, in the Mankweng district east of Polokwane.

At the time, Mojapelo said: “The suspect managed to access the firearm and somehow shot his younger brother. The mother was allegedly alerted by the gunshot sound and rushed to investigate. She then realised that the worst had happened. The badly injured child was rushed to the local clinic, but was certified dead on arrival. The police were then informed about the incident and immediately commenced with investigations.”

In 2018, an 11-year-old boy turned the gun on himself after shooting his younger sister dead while playing with their father’s firearm in Empangeni. Police spokesperson, Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said the boy was allegedly playing with his father’s licensed firearm when a shot went off and struck his two-year-old sister.

“The victim was taken to hospital for medical attention where she later died. The brother allegedly turned the gun on himself after seeing what had happened to his sister,” said Mbhele.

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