South Africa 4.9.2018 02:53 pm

Coligny teen may have died from blood aspiration, court heard

Coligny murderers Phillip Schutte (left) and Pieter Doorewaard appear in the North West High Court. Picture: ANA

Coligny murderers Phillip Schutte (left) and Pieter Doorewaard appear in the North West High Court. Picture: ANA

The state alleges that the two accused assaulted the teen and threw him out of a moving truck after accusing him of theft from their employer.

Coligny teenager Matlhomola Mosweu, who was allegedly thrown from the back of a moving truck more than a year ago, may have died of blood aspiration, the North West Court heard on Tuesday.

Sixteen-year-old Moshoeu, who was allegedly caught stealing sunflower seeds on 20 April 2017 by Pieter Doorewaard, 27, and Philip Schutte, 34, died on the same day.

The state alleges the two assaulted Mosweu and threw him out of a moving truck at Rietvlei farm near Coligny after accusing him of theft from their employer Pieter Karsten’s sunflower plantation. Karsten is Doorewaard’s uncle.

Earlier in June this year, key witness Bonakele Pakisi told the court that he saw the teenager being thrown out of the truck more than once.

In her testimony, specialist forensic pathologist Dr Ruweida Moorad said 23 different injuries were found on Mosweu’s body. She described the injuries as “severe”.

Dr Moorad said the injuries were consistent with a fall or a jump from a moving vehicle. She concluded that the deceased fell from the moving vehicle and he did not use his hands when he landed on the ground to protect his head.

“The were no injuries recorded on the palm, this showed that he did not use his hands to protect his head.” She added that Mosweu’s death was due to blunt force neck trauma.

The accused Doorewaard and Schutte have both pleaded not guilty to charges of Moshoeu’s murder, intimidation, kidnapping, theft, the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, and pointing a firearm.

Advocate Hennie du Plessis, for Doorewaard, called in expert witness Saartjie Rajan, a veteran trauma specialist of 22 years, to testify regarding emergency medical protocols.

On Tuesday Rajan told the court the teenager died of blood aspiration – contradicting assertions that he succumbed to his injuries sustained when he was thrown out of the truck.

Prosecutor Moeketsi Moeketsi asked the trauma specialist: “Are you disputing the finding of Dr Moorad as far as the cause of death is concerned?”

“Yes, I will say the patient aspirated,” replied Rajan.

Moeketsi asked: “According to you the cause of death is blood aspiration, are you a forensic pathologist? Are you qualified to make a determination on the cause of death of a patient?”

Rajan said while she could not determine the cause of death, she was qualified to declare a person dead.

Moeketsi asked again: “Dr Moorad is a specialist forensic pathologist, are disputing her finding?”

“That is her finding but, I disagree,” Rajan insisted.

Mosweu’s murder set off a violent mass protest that left a trail of destruction in the small maize growing town and divided the community. At least six houses and three trucks were set alight and several shops looted and damaged.

The trial continues.

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