Late spokesperson for SA Department of Health, Joe Maila, who died on Thursday evening (Pic supplied: DoH)

Johannesburg - As South Africans continue reeling from news of Health Department spokesperson Joe Maila's death, it's emerged he died following a shooting accident at a rifle range. 

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi had earlier confirmed Maila's death, saying he had died on Thursday evening. He was 48.

"It is with shock and a profound sense of sadness that I inform you of the untimely passing of the spokesperson of the Ministry of Health Joe Maila. He passed on yesterday [Thursday] evening," the minister said in a statement. 

"The circumstances surrounding his death are not yet known to the Ministry."

Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini confirmed Maila had died after allegedly shooting himself by accident. 

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"It happened last night [Thursday] at a shooting range in Silverton at around 6pm," Dlamini said.

He confirmed that an inquest had been opened into the matter and that police were currently investigating the circumstances around his death.

Details of Maila's memorial and funeral services are yet to be announced.