Whoever assaulted Stellenbosch academic and paediatrician Dr Louis Heyns must have known it would lead to serious injury or death, a forensic pathologist told the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.
Pathologist Daphne Anthony had testified on the large number of injuries to his body during the trial of his alleged killer, 34-year-old Marthinus van der Walt.
Judge Andre le Grange told her that Van der Walt claimed he had hit and kicked the doctor in May 2013 but did not intend to kill him.
The pathologist replied: “With your first kick, you must look at the possibility you can already kill someone”.
“With all the injuries sustained, the extent of the injuries and the amount of injuries, you can’t say with all honesty that you can by accident inflict all this trauma on a person.”
According to Anthony’s post-mortem report, Heyns died due to blunt trauma involving the head, neck, chest, abdomen and extremities, with contributing manual and ligature strangulation.
Van der Walt’s lawyer, Gert Fourie, wanted to know how she could be sure the trauma to the neck was caused by strangulation and not by a kick.
“You can’t [be sure] but as I said… I received the body with clothing tightly around the individual’s neck. I started the autopsy with that finding,” she explained, gesturing with her hands in a circular motion around her neck.
She disagreed with the lawyer’s assertion that in most cases, bloodshot eyes were an indication someone had been strangled.
Fourie persisted in asking how a pathologist would know beyond reasonable doubt that it was strangulation and not a kick in the neck, especially because there was no specific ligature mark.
Anthony said she knew there an amount of severe force to the neck, evident with a fractured hyoid bone [between the chin and the thyroid cartilage] and extensive bruising. This could have been caused by kicking or having something tied or tightened around the neck.
Brother Sarel van der Walt, 43, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to the murder and theft. He reached a plea bargain with the State last year and is currently serving a seven-year sentence.
A third suspect, Malmesbury businessman and scrapyard owner Juan Liedeman, pleaded guilty to a charge of not having reasonable cause to believe the stolen car was properly acquired. Louis’s car was found by police in his possession.
He also entered a plea bargain and sentencing agreement and was handed a R10 000 fine or five years behind bars. Half the fine and sentence were suspended for five years. News24