Court hears of severe trauma to slain doctor's body

2015-05-13 14:27
Dr Louis Heyns (Netwerk24)

Dr Louis Heyns (Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - A forensic pathologist spent just over an hour in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday describing the “severe trauma” to the body of Stellenbosch academic and paediatrician Dr Louis Heyns.

Daphne Anthony, from the Stellenbosch Forensic Pathology Services, listed the large number of injuries, her voice cutting through the dull hum of the overhead lights and silence in court room five.

“I concluded at the end of my autopsy that the cause of death was blunt trauma involving the head, neck, chest, abdomen and extremities, and contributing manual and ligature strangulation of the neck,” she said.

Heyns's widow Dalene sat with her eyes closed as Anthony gave her evidence-in-chief to prosecutor Samantha Raphaels.

Other family members sat alongside her, offering comfort and wiping away their tears every now and then.

Anthony was testifying in the trial of Marthinus van der Walt, 34, who is accused of hijacking, kidnapping and murdering the paediatrician in May 2013.

Not guilty plea

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming he had hit Heyns with his fist and kicked him but did not intend to kill the doctor. After discovering that Heyns was dead, he tied his hands and feet and took his car.

Anthony said she received the body with both wrists tied in front with a shoelace. A jacket covered the face and sleeves of a fleece top were tied tightly around the neck.

There was extensive haemorrhaging in the neck, which correlated with bruising to the neck area. The hyoid bone, under the chin, and thyroid cartilage were both fractured.

“Any force of blunt trauma is consistent with injuries in the neck. It could be your hands or the ligature or any form of trauma that you applied with extreme force to the neck. Direct force can be kicking, hitting or applying hands,” Anthony said.

Second, third suspect

Marthinus, along with his brother Sarel, 43, were initially accused of killing Heyns. Sarel 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 businessperson and scrapyard owner Juan Liedeman, pleaded guilty to a charge of not having reasonable cause to believe the stolen car was properly acquired.

Heyns'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 reportedly suspended for five years on condition that he not be convicted of a similar crime.

Read more on:    louis heyns  |  cape town  |  crime

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