For­mer army com­man­der's body had eleven wounds 'caused by high-ve­loc­ity mil­i­tary type weapons', ac­cord­ing to an au­topsy con­ducted by a South African pathol­o­gist

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

Le­sotho De­fence Force ( LDF) com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao died from eleven gun­shot wounds “caused by high-ve­loc­ity mil­i­tary type weapons”, ac­cord­ing to a post­mortem con­ducted by a South African pathol­o­gist.

the au­topsy was car­ried out on 3 July 2015 by Pro­fes­sor S.A. Wadee at Bloem­fontein Foren­sic Pathol­ogy Ser­vice in the pres­ence of sev­eral South African and Le­sotho state of­fi­cials but the ac­tual “con­fi­den­tial post-mortem re­port” was com­piled by Pro­fes­sor Gert Saay­man, head of the Depart­ment of Foren­sic Medicine at the univer­sity of Pre­to­ria.

the re­port states that Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Ma­hao’s death on 25 June 2015 was “con­sis­tent with mul­ti­ple high-ve­loc­ity gun­shot wounds, with blood loss”.

his body had 11 gun­shot wounds caused by the “high-ve­loc­ity mil­i­tary type weapons”.

Lt-gen Ma­hao’s in­juries were “pre­dom­i­nantly si­t­u­ated on the right side of the body, with one of the pro­jec­tiles (bul­lets) hav­ing deeply pen­e­trated the chest struc­tures and right lung”, says the re­port of which the Le­sotho Times has a copy.

the re­port says “the wounds are of a na­ture in keep­ing with what could have been caused by pro­jec­tiles fired from high-ve­loc­ity mil­i­tary type weapons.”

“At least some of the wounds have the ap­pear­ance that they were sus­tained af­ter the pro­jec­tile may have passed through an in­ter­me­di­ary tar­get,” the re­port says, rais­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that one or two of the bul­lets could have hit the for­mer LDF chief in the arm first be­fore en­ter­ing his chest.

the na­ture of the weapons de­scribed in the re­port mean that LtGen Ma­hao would not have stood a chance.

All the bul­let frag­ments re­trieved from the body dur­ing the au­topsy were handed over to a South African Po­lice Ser­vice (SAPS) War­rant Of­fi­cer present dur­ing the au­topsy “for seal­ing in an SAPS ev­i­dence bag”, the re­port says.

Blood sam­ples for al­co­hol/tox­i­col­ogy anal­y­sis were also ex­tracted from the body and handed over to a SAPS foren­sic of­fi­cer “for seal­ing” in an­other ev­i­dence bag.

Con­tacted for com­ment yes­ter­day, the Ma­hao fam­ily lawyer, Ad­vo­cate haae Phoofolo (King’s Coun­sel) said he had “gone through” the 13-page re­port but de­clined to give any de­tails.

“What I can only say is the post­mortem re­port is con­clu­sive proof that Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Ma­hao could not have been alive when he was taken to Makoanyane Mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal like the LDF has been al­leg­ing.

“Judg­ing from the wounds he sus­tained from high-cal­i­bre guns fired from close range, the shoot­ing was in­deed, bru­tal,” Adv Phoofolo said.

Ma­hao fam­ily spokesper­son, Lehloenya Ma­hao, re­fused to com­ment on the au­topsy re­port.

“I am not in a po­si­tion to dis­cuss the is­sue, maybe some other time, but cer­tainly not now,” he said.

the Ma­hao fam­ily has nev­er­the­less in­sisted in the past that LtGen­eral Ma­hao was bru­tally shot and killed on the spot while the LDF claims the for­mer army com­man­der was still alive when he was taken to the mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal.

the LDF has also pre­vi­ously claimed that Lt-gen­eral Ma­hao was killed while try­ing to re­sist ar­rest for al­legedly mas­ter­mind­ing a mutiny.

the mil­i­tary fur­ther al­leges he fired first, al­le­ga­tions fu­ri­ously re­jected by the for­mer army com­man­der’s fam­ily in past press state­ments.

Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo said the au­topsy re­port spoke for it­self as no one would have stood a chance from a vol­ley of bul­lets fired from the type of guns de­scribed in the au­topsy.

the re­port states that Lt-gen Ma­hao’s body was cleaned and “well-pre­served” af­ter he was shot by fel­low LDF mem­bers near his Mokema home.

Lt-gen Ma­hao’s prop­erty, the re­port says, was in “a com­mer­cial plas­tic shop­ping bag” next to his body dur­ing the au­topsy.

the prop­erty is listed as “one pair grey un­der­pants (par­tially cut open), a grey/char­coal t-shirt, a light brown short-sleeved shirt with ver­ti­cal stripes, a dark multi-coloured black/char­coal short-sleeved but­ton-down pull-on jersey, an olive-coloured pair of long trousers with an elas­ti­cated waist bear­ing the cloth­ing la­bel ‘ John­son’, and a two-tone ‘ John­son’ la­bel longsleeved shirt, olive and cream in colour.

“the shirt, as is the case with the other items of cloth­ing, has been ex­ten­sively cut open.”

the au­topsy re­port says “mul­ti­ple in­juries are ex­ter­nally vis­i­ble” on the body which is “no­tably clean in keep­ing with the body hav­ing been pre­vi­ously washed”. there was “vir­tu­ally no resid­ual blood on parts of the body away from the sites of the in­juries”.

the re­port de­scribes in great de­tail the ex­tent of the in­juries and the lo­ca­tion of the wounds on LtGen­eral Ma­hao’s up­per body.

“the up­per body gar­ments all show mul­ti­ple ir­reg­u­lar de­fects in keep­ing not only with the items of cloth­ing hav­ing been cut off or away from the body, but also prob­a­bly rep­re­sent­ing pen­e­tra­tion by one or more pro­jec­tiles (bul­lets).

“In par­tic­u­lar, the fol­low­ing ma­te­rial de­fects are noted on the ‘John­son’ two-tone long-sleeved shirt: l over the right del­toid as­pect is a large ir­reg­u­lar de­fect mea­sur­ing ap­prox­i­mately 75mm in di­am­e­ter, with ir­reg­u­lar edges and with mul­ti­ple sur­round­ing ad­di­tional ir­reg­u­lar­ity torn de­tects vary­ing from 2mm — 5mm in ap­prox­i­mate di­ame­tre. l there are mul­ti­ple ir­reg­u­larly torn de­fects to the right lat­eral as­pect of the shirt, the na­ture, the shape and size of which are as­sessed with dif­fi­culty as a re­sult of as­so­ci­ated and or sub­se­quent cut­ting, pre- sum­ably with a pair of scis­sors. l on the back panel of the shirt to the right of the mid­line in the up­per back, is an ir­reg­u­lar­ity shaped de­fect in the ma­te­rial mea­sur­ing ap­prox­i­mately 10mm in di­ame­tre. l there is no ob­vi­ous ev­i­dence of soot or grease soil­ing, glass im­preg­na­tion or blood on the items of cloth­ing.”

the re­port also says there was a “large gap­ing oval-shaped pen­e­trat­ing de­fect” on the right arm.

It con­tin­ues: “the wound has ir­reg­u­lar edges and an ir­reg­u­lar and vari­able col­lar of abra­sion vary­ing from 2mm to 6mm in di­ame­tre.

“Fur­ther­more, the right up­per arm dis­plays a pal­pa­bly frag­mented frac­ture of the humerus, with dis­tinct an­gu­la­tion and de­for­ma­tion of the up­per arm and with as­so­ci­ated short­en­ing of the limb.

“on the up­per me­dial as­pect of the right arm, im­me­di­ately dis­tal to the ax­il­lary fold, is a large ir­reg­u­lar gap­ing skin-wound mea­sur­ing ap­prox­i­mately 50mm in max­i­mal di­am­e­ter, with ir­reg­u­larly lac­er­ated edges and ir­reg­u­lar ar­eas of abra­sion sur­round­ing the wound.

“there is some ex­tru­sion and ever­sion of sub­cu­ta­neous soft and fatty tis­sue. the ap­pear­ance is not in­con­sis­tent with an exit gun­shot wound.

“on the lat­eral as­pect of the right side of the chest (po­si­tioned ap­prox­i­mately 30mm to the right nip­ple) is an oval pen­e­trat­ing wound mea­sur­ing ap­prox­i­mately 70x90mm, with dis­tinct but ir­reg­u­lar sur­round­ing col­lar of abra­sion, vary­ing from 5-10mm in width.

“the ap­pear­ance is not in­con­sis­tent with that of an en­trance gun­shot wound.

“on the back of the body, ap­prox­i­mately 150mm from the mid­line and at the ap­prox­i­mate level of the fifth tho­racic ver­te­bra, is an ir­reg­u­lar pen­e­trat­ing skin wound with max­i­mal di­am­e­ter ap­prox­i­mately 10mm.

“the wound edges are ir­reg­u­lar and ap­pear op­pos­able. No sur­round­ing col­lar of abra­sion is noted and indis­tinct ex­tru­sion and ever­sion of sub­cu­ta­neous soft tis­sue is seen.

“the over­all ap­pear­ance is con­sis­tent with that of an exit gun­shot in­jury. the wound is si­t­u­ated ap­prox­i­mately 146cm above the level of the right heel.

“on the right up­per fore­head is an ir­reg­u­lar area of abra­sion mea­sur­ing ap­prox­i­mately 45x25mm and with in­dis­tinctly vis­i­ble lon­gi­tu­di­nally ori­en­tated su­per­fi­cial stri­a­tions.

“the area above the up­per lip on the right side and lower por­tion of the right cheek, also in­volv­ing the right lat­eral as­pect and tip of the nose, show an ir­reg­u­lar area of abra­sion with col­lec­tive di­men­sions ap­prox­i­mately 40x40mm and with dis­tinct lon­gi­tu­di­nally ori­en­tated stri­a­tions within the base of the wound.

“Smaller dis­crete sep­a­rate ar­eas of abra­sion are vis­i­ble in the im­me­di­ately ad­ja­cent ar­eas. A small su­per­fi­cial abra­sion mea­sur­ing ap­prox­i­mately 4mm in max­i­mal di­am­e­ter is also present on the right up­per eye­lid.” the re­port also de­scribes the chest in­juries in greater de­tail.

“upon open­ing the skin over­ly­ing the an­te­rior chest, an in­dis­tinctly de­mar­cated (sub­cu­ta­neous) pro­jec­tile (bul­let) tract could be iden­ti­fied ex­tend­ing from pen­e­trat­ing in­juries on the right up­per arm and pec­toral re­gion, across the front of the chest but with­out pen­e­trat­ing the bony chest cage.

“this wound tract ex­tends al­most hor­i­zon­tally across the front tis­sue. haem­or­rhage is present where the rel­a­tively well-pre­served steel core of a (bul­let) pro­jec­tile was iden­ti­fied. the ex­ter­nally vis­i­ble con­tu­sion on the up­per part of the an­te­rior chest wall ap­pears to be a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the sub­ja­cent tis­sue in­juries over the up­per sterna re­gion,” the re­port also notes.

“the right lat­eral chest wall shows pen­e­trat­ing in­jury, as­so­ci­ated with over­ly­ing skin de­fect. there is a large ir­reg­u­lar de­fect in the chest wall over­ly­ing the lat­eral as­pect of the body of the fifth rib which has been frac­tured and com­pletely dis­rupted.”

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, there was “mod­er­ate soft tis­sue in­jury” to the in­te­rior ab­dom­i­nal wall while there was “ex­ten­sive dis­rup­tion” of the liver tis­sue.

the au­topsy re­port emerged this week as the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) dis­patched its me­di­a­tor, South African deputy pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, to meet with the govern­ment and voice the re­gional body’s con­cern over a de­ci­sion by LDF Spe­cial Forces Com­man­der Lieu­tenant-colonel tefo hashatsi to chal­lenge in court the work of a com­mis­sion con­vened by SADC to probe Lt-gen­eral Ma­hao’s death.

What I can only say is the post­mortem re­port is con­clu­sive proof that Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Ma­hao could not have been alive when he was taken to Makoanyane Mil­i­tary Hos­pi­tal like the LDF has been al­leg­ing

THE LATE Lt-gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao

PRO­FES­SOR Gert Saay­man’s sketchs in­di­cat­ing gun-shot wounds on the late Lt-gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao’s body.

THE late Lt-gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao.

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