First tests 'show Bosch was poisoned'

By Time of article published Aug 7, 2001

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By Tania Broughton, Jillian Green and Keeran Sewsunker

Early "clinical" indications from the post mortem on the remains of former South African cricketer and dentist Tertius Bosch were that he was poisoned, said the specialist forensic pathologist who conducted the examination on Tuesday.

The remains of Dr Bosch, who died in February last year from what was believed to be Guillain-Barre syndrome, were exhumed from the Queensburgh Cemetery in Durban on Tuesday morning after relatives raised suspicions over the cause of his death.

Guillain-Barre syndrome causes wasting and paralysis, but only five percent of its sufferers die.

Tuesday's post mortem, performed by private forensic pathologist Reggie Perumal, took two hours to complete.

And it went better than he had hoped.

"The body had been embalmed and was beautifully preserved, so I got really good organs, hair and fingernail specimens.

"The clinical presentation was one which supported poisoning... His skin was dark with white spots, he had lost his hair and there were signs of kidney dysfunction.

"I was testing for various forms of heavy metal poisoning, including amalgam lead (used in dentistry), the toxic component of which is mercury."

He said the samples would be sent "first thing in the morning" to a laboratory and the results would take between a week and 10 days to come back.

They would be given to Dr Bosch's sister, Rita van Wetten, who had requested the post mortem, and to the police, who had opened an inquest docket.

Dr Perumal described as "absolutely abnormal" the fact that the body had been embalmed, saying this would have been necessary only if it were to have been transported or put in a tomb.

"Why someone would want to delay the natural decaying process, I can't say... But some people believe that the chemicals in embalming fluid remove traces of poison."

Watching at the graveside while her brother's remains were dug up, Van Wetten, who lives in Vereeniging, declined to say why she had become suspicious about his death.

"I wouldn't have wanted to do this to him... It is a very traumatic experience watching this. He was adored... spoilt by the entire family."

His widow, Karen-Anne Bosch, who signed the consent for the exhumation, was at the cemetery briefly but left before the grave was opened.

She declined to comment.

Nine months ago, Van Wetten and her brother, Toon Bosch, hired a private investigator, Hennie Els, to probe various aspects of Dr Bosch's business affairs and his death.

Els said soon after Dr Bosch died in Westville Hospital, a large sum of money was paid out of his business account, apparently irregularly.

Dr Bosch had also left a second will, disinheriting his wife.

Mrs Bosch and Durban attorney Henry Selzer, the executor of the first will, have both confirmed that they were involved in a relationship, which ended only last week.

Selzer, who had been ill since October last year, is now assisting the police and Els with their investigations.

On Wednesday, he has an appointment with Dr Perumal.

"He appears to have similar symptoms to those of Dr Bosch. I will be conducting tests on him to look for similar poisons in his body," said Dr Perumal.

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