Pathologist called into question: ‘cheap shot’, says Perumal

2013-11-14 00:00

A “CHEAP SHOT” was how prominent KwaZulu-Natal specialist forensic pathologist Reggie Perumal responded to a prosecutor’s suggestion that his evidence in court was affected “by the amount of money deposited in his bank account”.

The submission by regional court prosecutor Rene Padayachee at the trial Pietermaritzburg’s “dancefloor murder” accused Sherwin Cara (24) caused a furore yesterday after defence advocate Gideon Scheltema SC objected strongly to it.

Perumal is well known for his testimonies in high-profile trials across the country. He is expected to testify at the trial of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorious for the murder of his lover Reeva Steenkamp.

He has also testified for the state at the Marikana commission and is involved in the case where policemen from Daveyton are alleged to have dragged taxi driver Mido Macia behind a police van.

Perumal said he’d dismiss the prosecutor’s allegation as a “cheap shot”.

“As a matter of fact, in 50% of matters that I give evidence in, I am called to testify on behalf of the state,” he said.

Perumal, who has been in private practice for over 20 years, said he always testifies independently irrespective of whether he is called to give evidence by the state, defence or even by the court.

“I won’t take it [the remark] too seriously,” he said.

He added he often does work for nothing, including training state advocates and prosecutors.

Padayachee made her submission when arguing that the court should disregard Perumal’s evidence, which supported the defence version that the victim, Juran Raman (20), fell and cut his neck on broken glass on the dancefloor of the Vacca Matta nightclub.

She said Perumal’s evidence was based on the post mortem report, since he didn’t perform an autopsy on the body, and suggested his opinion might have been influenced by the money he was paid.

She urged the court to prefer the state evidence of surgeon Andrew Tudor, who operated on Raman to try to save his life. Tudor said the wound could not have been caused by a fall as it was too deep and too much force had to be applied.

Scheltema has argued that Padayachee’s comment about Perumal might render Cara’s trial “unfair” because it created a certain perception. He said the defence may want to recall Perumal to testify, or even to apply for the magistrate to recuse herself from the case because of it.

Regional magistrate Fikile Luvuno granted his application to postpone the case while the defence considers its position and adjourned it to March 4 next year.

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