A 24-year-old former LLB student of the University of Pretoria shot herself in the stomach and is recovering from her wounds after undergoing surgery at the Netcare Montana Hospital. According to witnesses the shooting took place at 18:00 on Wednesday 11 April on the UP Hatfield Campus. It is believed that the weapon used belonged to the father of the victim.

Early reports suggest that she was in her graduation robes following her graduation ceremony when the incident occurred. The Law Faculty graduation took place at 15:00 on the day of the incident at the LC de Villiers Sports Grounds.

A married couple, who were on campus for their daughter’s awards evening at the time of the shooting, told Perdeby they heard a gunshot at 18:00 near the Client Services Centre and said, “[We] noticed [the] student about 10 metres away from us, lying back on the grass – a black jacket across her lap. There was no screaming or hysteria but the girl was speaking on the phone asking for help. Soon thereafter her father and family ran past us and he quickly applied a cloth to her stomach and started speaking to her.”

Eye Witness News reported on 12 April that the victim was trying to commit suicide.

But Brooklyn Police told Perdeby that these claims are unfounded. “Unless the investigation leads us [to believe that the incident was an attempted suicide], we are still going [to deal] with it as an accident,” they said. A university spokesperson confirmed that it was an accident but that the details are still under investigation.

According to a press release issued by the university, the victim, Chantelle Stockel, is under police investigation for the negligent discharge of a firearm. Stockel is unwilling to comment to the press.

The incident has raised concerns about safety on campus. UP’s Director of Security Services, Colin Fouché, said that the shooting was a “very unfortunate, isolated incident.” He told Perdeby that the incident is a “matter of concern” but that “security [at UP] is not out of hand.” He assured students that they have nothing to fear and should not be concerned for their safety on campus.

Fouché said that Tuks is a gun free zone and that there are specific circumstances surrounding the shooting that he can’t divulge at the request of Stockel’s parents. Fouché admitted that “[there is] always more [that] can be done” to improve security.

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