Ex-Blue Bull case: Court hears of beheading

2013-04-19 19:40

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Durban - Considerable force is needed to behead someone, the Durban High Court heard on Friday.

Pathologist Nonhlanhla Shamase - who carried out post-mortems on four men former Blue Bulls flanker Phindile Joseph Ntshongwana allegedly killed - told the court that to chop a head clean off, an attacker would have to cut through skin, muscle and bone.

Three of Ntshongwana's alleged victims were decapitated.

Asked by prosecutor Rea Mina whether the head of one of the murder victims "was only attached to the trunk by two strands of skin", Shamase agreed.

Shamase said different factors would have determined the amount of force needed to chop cleanly through a body, such as the size of the person and the weapon used.

Asked how much force would have been used in the attack on Thembelenkosini Cebekhulu, she said: "It would have been quite a considerable force since the [neck] bone was severed."

She said Cebekhulu was 1.69m tall, weighed 83kg and was "well-built".

Apart from being charged with murdering Cebekhulu, in Montclair on 20 March 2011, Ntshongwana is also accused of murdering Paulos Hlongwa in Lamontville on 22 March 2011, and Simon Ngidi in Umbilo on 23 March 2011.

The fourth victim, whose decomposing body was discovered near a railway line 500m from Ntshongwana's home on 1 April 2011, appeared to have been beaten with a blunt instrument.

Ntshongwana is also accused of kidnapping and raping a woman on 28 November 2010, and faces a charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Shamase said the dimension of the wounds on three of the bodies were compared with an axe police brought her for comparison.

"The dimensions of the wound matched the axe," she said.

Under cross-examination from Ntshongwana's advocate Themba Mjoli, she conceded that while she had measured the length of the wounds, she had not measured the axe.

She said she had placed the axe next to the wounds to conclude a similar weapon had caused the injuries.

Asked how long the fourth victim had been dead, she said: "I can only give an estimate; I would say plus-minus two weeks."

Factors such as the weather and humidity would affect the rate at which a body decomposed.

She believed the wounds had been inflicted while the man was alive because the skin around the wounds was discoloured.

Had the beating taken place after death, there would have been no discolouration due to a lack of blood flow.

The trial continues on Monday.

Read more on:    phindile joseph ntshongwana  |  durban

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