Government has expressed shock and sadness following the death of Joe Maila, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's spokesperson.
"Joe practised his craft with passion and this trait saw him grow from strength to strength as he served across various government departments over the years," said Minister of Communications Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, on behalf of government communicators.
Maila apparently accidentally shot himself at a shooting range in Silverton in Pretoria, police said.
"In his daily work, he always viewed the media as a partner to address the health challenges we face as a country.
"He contributed to creating an informed citizenry as he communicated government's health policies and programmes to the public," Kubayi-Ngubane said.
She said Maila upheld the principles and ethics of the communication profession.
Inquest docket opened
Gauteng police spokesperson Lungelo Dlamini said: "A 48-year-old male shot himself at a shooting range in Silverton at around 18:00 on Thursday."
Dlamini said the circumstances surrounding the incident would be part of an inquest.
An inquest docket has been opened.
The minister said in a statement on Friday afternoon that it was with a "profound sense of sadness" that he made the announcement about Maila's death.
"He passed yesterday evening. The circumstances surrounding his death are not yet known to the ministry. Joe Maila is survived by his wife and two children," Motsoaledi said in a statement.
"I appeal to the media and members of the community to allow the family space to deal with his death. Details of his memorial and funeral services will be announced as soon as we receive information from the family."
A consummate professional, a dapper man you were Sir. The humour you dished out always made requests for "comment" special. RIP #JoeMaila pic.twitter.com/aRJdDFa2F1— Noni Mokati (@Noni_M2) October 20, 2017
Sad news on the passing of Joe Maila. Deepest Condolences to his family, colleagues and loved ones. May his soul Rest In Peace.— Ruth Field (@Ruthfield5) October 20, 2017
RIP #JoeMaila. Your work speaks volumes. Always available to represent the ministry and wanted to see everything through. @HealthZA— Amos Tabane CM(SA) (@RealAmosTabane) October 20, 2017
#JoeMaila what a team player he was, drawing respectability to health dept with his diligence and intelligence. Go well BraJoe— Tumo Mokone (@TumoMokone) October 20, 2017