Judge Bert Bam asked chief medical officer for forensic pathology in Gauteng, Dr Solly Kaiser Skosana, to explain whether medical assistance would have saved the critically injured Macia who died in the Daveyton police station.
“Yes it is correct, my lord,” Skosana responded.
“It is correct that medical intervention would have helped the situation. Medical intervention would have made a difference. His life would have been saved,” he said.
Prosecutor Charles Mnisi then requested Skosana to clarify his remarks.
Skosana responded: “There are a number of medical interventions which somebody who is injured in this particular manner that as a doctor you attend to. If ever one is unconscious at any stage, you put that person in a position which will make his breathing not contribute to hampering his respiration. You put an airway in.
“In a situation where you are deeply suspicious of a development of cerebral edema and anoxia (lack of oxygen) then provision of oxygen does make a difference,” Skosana said.
He said the fact that Macia was not attended to may have contributed to his death.
“Medical intervention in any situation would definitely alleviate a situation where there is progression to a fatality,” Skosana added.
Macia was found dead in the Ekurhuleni police station’s holding cells after an altercation with nine officers regarding a traffic violation on February 26, 2013.
Macia was taken into the police station before 7pm and paramedics pronounced him dead in the cells hours later at around 9pm. The court has previously heard that there is a clinic a stone’s throw from the police station.
In cellphone video footage which later surfaced after Macia’s arrest, the Mozambican can be seen being handcuffed and dragged behind a police van in Daveyton.
Nine former police officers – Bongamusa Mdluli, Meshack Malele, Thamsanqa Ngema, Percy Mnisi, Sipho Ngobeni, Lungisa Gwababa, Bongani Kolisi, Linda Sololo and Matome Ramatlou – were in court on Friday, facing murder charges relating to Macia’s death.
They are all out on bail. All have been dismissed from the SAPS following an internal disciplinary hearing.
Skosana told the court that Macia died as a result of extensive soft tissue damage and a lack of oxygen.
Skosana conducted the post mortem.
“After having observed injuries which were inflicted on the body of the deceased from the head and the head injuries, extensive soft tissue injuries, I drew a provisional diagnosis on the cause of death as extensive soft tissue injuries with some evidence of anoxia [lack of oxygen],” Skosana testified.
He said the diagnosis was provisional because at that stage a specimen was taken from Macia for histological examination.
“After studying the results of the histology, an opinion would inform [me] on the final diagnosis of death. That [opinion] was extensive soft tissue injuries with anoxia. That was all, my lord,” Skosana said as he testified.
He told the court how he found Macia on the evening of February 26, 2013 in the Daveyton police cells.
Describing what he saw, he said: “The deceased was lying on the floor facing up, with his arms above his head. There was clotted blood underneath his face and on his mouth area. He was wearing a soiled red t-shirt and black and white underpants.”
“There was other brownish white torn underpants at at his knees. He had torn socks. On examination of the body, rigor mortis had not set in,” said Skosana.
Rigor mortis is the stiffening of the body muscles which occurs after death.
“Further examination of the (police) cells showed some blood spots on the walls and floor. In one area, which was a small room, there was a soiled towel. When I asked the police what it was for, they said it was an old rag not belonging to the deceased,” he said.
The medical practitioner went on to conduct an extensive post mortem on Macia’s body the following day.
He listed 18 external injuries on Macia’s body including several abrasions discovered during the medico-legal post mortem examination. The body was then opened for further examination.
Skosana also outlined internal injuries to Macia’s body.
“Regarding the inside of the chest – the thoracic cage and the diaphragm. There was intercoastal bruising left posterior chest. Intercoastal spaces are the spaces between the ribs. Both lungs were edematous and congested,” he said.
Skosana said this meant during the post mortem it was discovered that Macia’s lungs were full of blood.
The trial would resume on Monday.