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Accidental discharge while cleaning a gun claims nine-year-old in Cape Town

A young boy was shot in the head in a freak incident involving an accidental discharge of a firearm. Nine-year-old Tiano Anthony was rushed to a nearby hospital in Towerkop Road, Manenberg in Cape Town in July 2023 where he succumbed to severe head trauma the following morning. After a police investigation, the owner of the firearm confessed that he was cleaning the gun when it went off. The man was arrested for murder. 

Freak accidents that involve children are every gun owner’s worst nightmare. Firearms Guardian cannot stress enough how important it is to act with discipline and care when handling a firearm, especially when there are children in the house. Unfortunately tragedies like this do occur. Whether it is an accidental discharge while cleaning a gun, or a case where a children gets their hands on a firearm, knowing that you are responsible for the death of an innocent child is life-changing. 

We asked our legal expert, dr. Llewelyn Curlewis, to weigh in on the murder charge:

“The answer to your question is rather straightforward. From the information that you provided it is clear that the owner of the firearm, who was also the person that was cleaning the gun when it went off, cannot be convicted of murder since the required form of guilt (which is an essential element of the crime of murder) is absent. In order to be convicted of murder, guilt in the form of dolus (intention) is a requirement. Since this is clearly an “accident”, in other words not intentional, but merely negligent, the appropriate charge and probable conviction that will follow, is one of culpable homicide. One percent negligence is sufficient for a criminal conviction on this competent verdict to a murder charge and unless the court and the evidence suggests that the owner of the gun acted like the reasonable person under the circumstances or have any other special defence in law (which I doubt) he will be convicted of culpable homicide. Negligence (culpa) is a sufficient form of guilt for a charge of culpable homicide. Remember that both dolus and culpa are forms of so-called mens rea (guilt),” says Curlewis. 

Firearms Guardian urges all policyholders to follow the safety steps below to avoid finding themselves caught in a situation where someone is severely injured or even killed due negligence.  

  1. Always treat every firearm as if it is loaded: This is a fundamental rule of firearm safety. Even if you believe a firearm is unloaded, handle it with care and always point it in a safe direction: See our article on the best safe action trigger systems.
  2. Trigger discipline is vitally important: Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. This prevents any accidental discharges of the firearm.
  3. Educate others in your household: Ensure that everyone in your home who may come into contact with the firearm, are aware of and respect all safety procedures and rules. 

Firearms Guardian is there to protect  lawfully armed citizen in South Africa, and our legal and liability cover includes accidental discharges – you are covered even if a child in your house should somehow get their hands on a firearm. In a tragedy like this, we will provide expert legal and liability cover when you need it most.

Firearms Guardian is a ground-breaking legal protection insurance package for lawfully armed citizens. Whether for self-defence, accidental discharge, hunting accidents and more, including Firearms Control Act related prosecution, we can cover you.

If you have a Firearm, you need a 24/7 direct line to a team of legal experts – day and night.

Firearms Guardian provides exactly that from as little as R135.00 p/m. Depending on the option that you choose, you’ll get comprehensive legal cover up to R300 000 per case and liability cover up to R300 000 per annum.

The Firearms Guardian policy is administered by Firearms Guardian (Pty) Ltd (FSP47115), an authorised Financial Services Provider and underwritten by GENRIC Insurance Company Limited (FSP43638), an authorised Financial Services Provider and licensed non-life Insurer.