Senzo Meyiwa: Death came rapidly from close contact wound to chest

Senzo Meyiwa during a match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on September 20 2014. File photo.
Senzo Meyiwa during a match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on September 20 2014. File photo.
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Footballer Senzo Meyiwa had a Sunday meal typical in many South African homes of meat, vegetables and rice, before he was shot in the chest at close range and rapidly succumbed to the fast-bleeding wound.

“In this case he probably would have survived seconds, minutes, definitely not hours,” pathologist Dr Johannes Steenekamp told the Pretoria high court on Tuesday.

He conducted an autopsy on Meyiwa's body at Germiston mortuary on October 28 2014, two days after the Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper died. 

Meyiwa was clad in a white bloodstained shirt, a white vest and blue tracksuit.

His stomach contained “500ml of partially digested food material in which rice, vegetable matter and fragments of meat could still be identified”.

Meyiwa was with his girlfriend Kelly Khumalo at her mother Ntombi's home in Vosloorus. They were relaxing over lunch and watching a soccer match with Kelly's sister Zandile, her then-boyfriend, Longwe Twala and two of Meyiwa's friends who were visiting from KwaZulu-Natal. The occupants of the house told police that two robbers entered, demanding cash and cellphones, before Meyiwa was shot in a scuffle with one of the intruders.

According to Steenekamp, the firearm was held against the victim at close range.

“The track of this wound passes downwards, backwards (from front and laterally), away from the mid-section of the body,” he said.

“It perforated the sternum on the right at the level of rib three, showing blackening of the outer aspect as well as inverted bone fragments over the inner aspect of this bone. The perforation measures 1cm in diameter enlarging towards the inner aspect of the sternum where the inverted bone fragments are noted.” 

Steenekamp explained to the court that the bullet would have gone through his body in milliseconds. “When the bullet hit and entered, he would have started bleeding immediately. As long as his heart was beating, he was bleeding out into the cavity.”

During his examination, Steenekamp said Meyiwa's right chest cavity contained 1,700ml of free and clotted blood. “That's internal blood loss from the heart as well as the lungs in that area, flowing to the chest cavity, resulting in the left lung collapsing,” he said.

The cause of death was consistent with a bullet wound of the chest involving the heart and the lung.


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