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Durban - A seven-year-old Zululand boy died after he accidentally shot himself with his uncle’s gun.

Sthokomele Mngunu, of Mtubatuba, was playing with his 12-year-old cousin when the two boys discovered the homemade gun, known as uqwashu, hidden under a mattress.

“According to the 12-year-old, the boys grabbed the gun and Sthokomele wanted to have a closer look at it,” said Mtubatuba police spokesman Captain Jabulani Mdletshe.

The little boy, said Mdletshe, was inspecting the gun when the trigger went off, shooting him in his left eye.

“The cousin said Sthokomele was looking through the barrel when he accidentally pressed the trigger. The boy said he heard a loud bang and then Sthokomele fell down,” he said.

The Grade 1 pupil at Bhelebamvu Primary School was rushed to the nearest clinic and later transferred to hospital, where he died.

Sthokomele’s distraught mother, Bongekile Mthembu, said she was in the kitchen when she heard a loud bang coming from one of the bedrooms.

When she went to investigate she found her son – her only child – lying in a pool of blood.

“I didn’t even know that there was a gun in the house,” said Mthembu.

By the time she managed to find a vehicle to rush him to the clinic, Mthembu said her son had lost a lot of blood.

“He was bleeding profusely and was groaning in pain.”

Sthokomele died at Ngwelezane Hospital in Empangeni.

Her son had always been curious, and fascinated by guns, Mthembu said.

“He loved watching action movies and would often re-enact some of the gunfighting scenes.”

Mthembu insisted that she didn’t know the gun was kept in the house.

Mdletshe said an inquest docket had been opened, but the boy’s uncle had not been arrested.

“We can’t arrest the uncle at the moment because he was in Durban at the time of the incident and he hasn’t been to the home in months.

“We first need to investigate and establish if the gun really belongs to him.”

This is one of many incidents in which a gun has accidentally gone off, injuring or killing a child.

Earlier this year, Sean Kotzin was arrested and charged with negligent use of a firearm after he accidentally shot and wounded his son at a hunting expo.

His son was critically wounded at HuntEx, held at Gallagher Estate, on April 28, when they went into a toilet cubicle and Kotzin’s gun went off.

The boy, 7 at the time, was shot in the chest.

Kotzin was arrested and later released on R2 000 bail.

The child is now 8 and is reportedly recovering well.

In 2012 Glenn Boshoff of Gauteng shot and killed his daughter Idie Boshoff, 8, through his closed bedroom door during a robbery at their home after mistaking her attempt to open the door for a robber’s action