Prison warder allegedly shoots friend before turning gun on himself

A probe is under way to look at how a firearm was permitted at a liquor outlet, after a prison warder allegedly shot a friend before turning the gun on himself on Sunday.
A probe is under way to look at how a firearm was permitted at a liquor outlet, after a prison warder allegedly shot a friend before turning the gun on himself on Sunday.
Image: 123RF/Roger Lamkin

Police in Mpumalanga have condemned a shooting incident involving a correctional services official who allegedly shot his friend before turning the gun on himself.

The incident is said to have occurred at a tavern in Barberton on Sunday.

Police spokesperson Col Donald Mdhluli said a murder case was opened and an inquest docket is being investigated to probe the two deaths.

“The two men have already been identified by their families as Ralph Hlophe, who was a prison warder, and Chris Mkhonto. The motive for the shooting is unknown at this stage,” he said.

Mdhluli said that, according to information provided, a group of people - including Hlophe and Mkhonto - were at a tavern in Barberton on Sunday.

“It is said that the official was in possession of his private firearm at the time. He then allegedly shot his friend before turning the gun on himself. Police, as well as the paramedics, were notified about the incident and, upon arrival, the two were certified dead,” said Mdhluli.

Other than the two deaths, police were also investigating firearm controls at the tavern, and whether the business was operating in contravention of lockdown regulations. 

“A probe is under way to also look at how a firearm was permitted at the said liquor outlet, as well as circumstances surrounding the tavern being opened during the time when the incident occurred. Drastic actions will be taken against those found to have violated the regulations, without fear or favour,” he said.

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