Senzo Meyiwa lived for ‘seconds or minutes after being shot’
The former Bafana Bafana captain died due to blood loss, according a pathologist.
Five accused men in the Senzo Mayiwa murder trial stand in the dock at Pretoria High Court on 17 July 2023. Picture: Gallo Images/Phill Magakoe
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: This article may contain details not suitable for sensitive readers
Senzo Meyiwa’s post-mortem results have revealed the former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper did not survive long after he was shot, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard on Tuesday.
The murder trial of five men accused of killing Meyiwa resumed in court on Tuesday, with Dr Johannes Steenekamp taking the stand as a new state witness.
Steenekamp, who is a retired specialist forensic pathologist, examined Meyiwa’s body at the Germiston mortuary two days after his death.
The former Bafana Bafana captain was allegedly fatally shot by armed intruders at the Vosloorus family home of his then-girlfriend, singer Kelly Khumalo, on 26 October 2014.
Gunshot wound track
Giving evidence, Steenekamp shed more light on Meyiwa’s autopsy, revealing there had been resuscitation attempts on Meyiwa before he died at the Botshelong Hospital due to the ECG stickers found on his chest.
Reading from his report, Steenekamp described the wound, saying he noticed black granular material consistent with gunshot residue.
The witness said he found the wound was consistent with a contact bullet entrance wound, which suggests the gun was on Meyiwa’s body when it was fired.
“I say that due to the fact a muzzle is pressed against the skin, all the elements that’s the gas, the heat, the gunpowder are driven into the skin.
According to the doctor, the bullet entered Meyiwa’s body in the front in a downward trajectory “in an acute angle” tearing the right chamber of the heart.
The bullet, which exited through the back, also partially tore the right coronary artery, the pathologist said.
“It then bruised the upper lobe of the right lung,” he explained, adding the bullet further tore the lower lobe, which caused bleeding into the soft tissues.
Watch: What you need to know about the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial so far
Steenekamp, who carried out 500 to 600 autopsies per year in his career, found Meyiwa suffered significant blood loss due to internal bleeding from the heart and the left lung.
The right lung, which was pale from blood loss, had partially collapsed.
“The person [bled] into the chest cavity,” he said.
The pathologist also told the court there were no bruises on Meyiwa’s head or neck, nor was there damage to the nasal or mouth cavities.
‘Survived seconds or minutes’
Steenekamp further indicated the cause of the death was consistent with a bullet wound through the chest and the heart.
State prosecutor advocate George Baloyi asked Steenekamp how long Meyiwa survived after he was shot. The doctor responded he did not think his death was instantaneous.
“In this case, I do not think so because of the mechanism of death which I explained as possibly the blood loss… he probably would have survived seconds or minutes but definitely not hours,” Steenekamp said.
Describing Meyiwa’s position when he was shot, the doctor said: “The deceased could have moved forwards and slightly bent down at the waist if the accused was standing right in front of him or he could have tried to push the firearm away from his body, pulling it downwards, backwards and lateral position.”
However, the pathologist added a ballistic forensic expert would be the best placed to respond on related matters.
“I’m specifically referring to entering and passing through the body. He would have started bleeding immediately,” Steenekamp continued.
Kelly’s sister, Zandile Khumalo previously testified Meyiwa’s body was cold when they rushed him to the hospital.