A police detective was handed a six year suspended sentence in connection with the death of Pietermaritzburg senior state advocate, Addelaid Ann Ferreira Watt (62).
SAPS detective warrant officer, Muzi Euchalystius Mkhize (57), was sentenced by the Scottburgh Regional Court after pleading guilty to culpable homicide.
The incident took place in November 2019 when Watt was prosecuting a farm robbery matter in the uMzimkhulu regional court.
During court proceedings one of the firearms went off while in the possession of Mkhize who was the investigating officer in the case.
Watt was shot and died.
In his plea statement, said Ramkisson-Kara, Mkhize agreed that he failed to check whether the returned firearm was loaded or safe, as he believed that the firearm was not working.
“He said that during court proceedings he had dozed off and was startled when the court suddenly adjourned. This caused him to lose control of the shotgun and in an attempt to regain control of the gun, a shot was discharged.
“Watt who was sitting diagonally across from him, was struck on her left hip and subsequently died due to a loss of blood,” said Ramkisson-Kara.
She said Mkhize admitted that in trying to regain control of the firearm, he unintentionally pressed the trigger or caused the firearm to discharge a round.
Mkhize conceded in his plea that his conduct was negligent and said he never intended to shoot or injure Watt as they had shared a fruitful working relationship.
As part of the sentence, Mkhize has to pay a fine of R20 000 to a shelter for abused women and children in Pietermaritzburg on or before March 11.
In a victim impact statement handed to the court, Watt’s daughter Lindsay Ann Hawkins described the sheer loss and devastation she felt after losing her mother, said Ramkisson-Kara.
“She described her mother as a kind and vibrant woman who lit up the room when she walked in. Hawkins said that she has suffered psychological, emotional and physical trauma as she and her mother were inseparable.”
Watt was stationed at the Pietermaritzburg office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal.