Kriel shot in back, says pathologist

The Kriel family asked for a private post-mortem hoping it would help answer questions surrounding the death of the African National Congress guerrilla, who was shot in an Athlone, Cape Town home two weeks ago.

The pathologist, who cannot be named for ethical reasons, said deposits of powder deep in the bullet wound in the small of Kriel’s back was “proof positive” that he was shot from behind at point-blank range. He also found what could have been an imprint of the muzzle circling the wound.

The bullet unveiled along a horizontal, slightly downwards path before exiting from the left-hand side of Kriel’s chest. He said a 3cm laceration on Kriel’s forehead could have been caused by a blunt instrument such as a truncheon or revolver. The right side of his head was bruised and abrasions on his right upper arm and left shoulder were consistent with “someone being gripped in a struggle of some kind”. He found no marks on Kriel’s wrists.

A witness who saw the body soon after the shooting claimed that Kriel was handcuffed. However, the pathologist did not specifically look for any bruises and said it was possible any marks might have faded before he examined the body, five days after the shooting. An abrasion on Kriel’s chin could have been caused by his falling on to his face, possibly as a result of the force of the bullet entering his back.

Police have said Kriel died from a bullet fired by his own weapon during a struggle with police who were trying to disarm and arrest him. Lawyers acting for the Kriel family said no date for an inquest had yet been set.

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail newspaper

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Gaye Davis
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