The battle to save alleged “road rage” shooting victim Kavlin Naidoo (27) in November 2014 was vividly described by top surgeons in the regional court in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.
The agony of reliving the trauma they and their son suffered as he clung to life in the ICU for 20 days, was sketched on the faces of Naidoo’s parents, Patsy and Dev Naidoo, as they sat listening to the testimony.
At times tears rolled down Patsy Naidoo’s cheeks.
The medical evidence revealed a bullet tore through Naidoo’s stomach and severely damaged his pancreas, liver and kidneys. He lost copious amounts of blood.
Dr Sharon Raye Câcâla and Dr George Oosthuizen, who both have a long list of South African and international qualifications and currently head the surgical units at Grey’s, said there had been little hope of Naidoo surviving his massive injuries.
“When I came out of theatre I told his family that his prognosis was guarded. I don’t know if they recall it but I said to them they have a small time with him and I do not think his injuries are compatible with long-term survival,” Dr Câcâla testified.
“I thanked the Lord that he got off the [operating] table because I think it was completely in the Lord’s hands that he did,” she said later.
According to her testimony, when she commenced operating on Naidoo he was barely alive.
The initial surgery was aimed at “damage control” to stem the massive internal bleeding, and when she left theatre after four hours he stayed on the operating table as he was too unstable to move.
“He could not be moved even across the corridor to ICU,” she said.
Naidoo was moved to ICU the following day at around noon, the court heard. He later underwent a number of further surgical procedures for various complications that arose up to the time he died on November 22.
Part of the defence raised by the man charged with Naidoo’s murder, former policeman Thobelani Khuzwayo, is that his death was not due to his (Khuzwayo’s) conduct but due to the failure of hospital staff to prevent “and/or successfully treat the onset of septicaemia”.
Dr Oosthuizen, former president of the Trauma Society of SA and the head of the trauma unit at Grey’s, told the court that indeed the ultimate cause of Kavlin Naidoo’s death was “overwhelming sepsis”.
However, this was the result of massive injuries, shock and blood loss he had suffered from the gunshot. “I could have predicted the course of events from day one … nine out of 10 patients would not survive,” he said.
Pleading not guilty to murder and defeating the ends of justice at the start of the trial, Khuzwayo claimed to have shot Naidoo because he thought he and his companions were going to hijack him.
He denies the state’s allegation that his motive was “road rage”.
“On the night of November 2, 2014 I was travelling on Loop Street … when a vehicle containing the deceased and at least two other occupants cut me off at the intersection of Loop and Retief streets.
“The deceased climbed out of his vehicle and moved his right hand towards his right hip as if he were either drawing a firearm or ensuring that his firearm was on his hip.
“The deceased and two others advanced towards my car in a threatening manner which I perceived as being an intention to hijack my vehicle or commit some other harm to me,” he said.
Naidoo’s brother, Davelin, and fiancée Sandhani Padayachee, however, testified that Naidoo was shot out of the blue for no reason.
Davelin Naidoo, who was driving, said he had stopped at a robot when Khuzwayo’s car skidded to a halt cutting in front of him. Kavlin, who was a passenger, alighted to find out what was wrong and moments later was shot.
The case has now been adjourned to September 26.