Aeronautical engineer Thivash Moodley showed the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Thursday, videos recreating the possible ways Hoosen Haffejee died in his police cell in 1977.
He said that had Haffejee wanted to hang himself, there were various options for him. These included using bars on the cell door higher up than the lowest bar which was a mere 400 mm off the ground.
His body was found suspended with a pair of trousers twisted tightly around his neck from the lowest bar.
The trousers were knotted to the bar with a handkerchief. The trousers were twisted extremely tightly around the neck.
He concluded that from his various experiments it would have been “most difficult” for Haffejee to have strangled himself with his trousers in the Brighton Beach cell, and much less difficult had another person been involved.
He also believed the elongated position in which the body was found was indicative of having been dragged, possibly when the cell door was shut by a person leaving the cell.
To conduct the experiments, he used a series of mathematical calculations to estimate the weight of each of the late dentist’s body parts. Haffejee is described as tall and light, weighing only 49 kilograms in total.
Moodley believed it unlikely Haffejee hanged himself and more likely he was strangled.
Volunteers of similar height and build to Haffejee demonstrated the efforts required to turn their bodies around on the ground and in so doing twist the trousers around their necks till they experienced difficulty breathing. Their bodies did not end up in the position Haffejee had been found lying as they began to experience signs of losing consciousness at an early stage.
He said the scenario in which Haffejee hanged himself from the lowest cell bar did not make sense.
The case is continuing.