Wednesday, 27 Sep 2023

Surgeon killed in front of his wife and son, two, in South Africa

British surgeon killed in front of his wife and two-year-old son after taking wrong turn out of South African airport and getting caught up in violent protests was shot in the head, inquest hears

  • Mr Kar Teoh was on holiday when he was shot dead after taking a wrong turn

A British surgeon who was killed during violent protests in South Africa was shot in the head, an inquest has heard.

Kar Hao Teoh, 40, who worked at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex, was a tourist in Cape Town when he was shot.

An inquest, which was opened and adjourned in Chelmsford today, heard some of the details of the surgeon’s death.

Michelle Brown, area coroner for Essex, said: ‘On August 4, this 40-year-old man was on holiday in South Africa with his family when an unknown person approached the car and discharged a firearm, hitting him in the head.’

A post-mortem examination carried out in South Africa recorded that Mr Teoh, of Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, died of a gunshot to the head, Ms Brown said.

Mr Kar Teoh, 40, was a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire

The death comes amid violence across Cape Town in response to police impounding illegal vehicles. Pictured: A resident of Masiphumelele use a board as a shield during clashes

It is believed he had taken a wrong turn from a nearby airport when a group approached the vehicle he was in and shot him.

Unrest on the outskirts of South Africa’s second-largest city began after minibus taxi drivers announced a week-long strike.

Ms Brown said Mr Teoh’s body has been repatriated to Essex.

‘The case will be adjourned off and will be heard at some point, depending on the time limits for the evidence to arrive from South Africa,’ she said, adding that the date for a full inquest hearing is to be confirmed.

Mr Teoh worked as a consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

In a statement, the hospital said he was a ‘well-respected member of the team, valued colleague and friend to many across the hospital as well as in regional, national and international trauma and orthopaedic networks’.

South African police have opened a murder case into the shooting, which happened in the Nyanga township near Cape Town International Airport.

Two years ago, Mr Teoh won the Presidential Prize at the European Foot and Ankle Society conference in Lyon for his research into the treatment of ankle fractures.

He also worked privately for MSK Doctors, and close friend Professor Paul Lee paid tribute to him with a moving tribute online.

Professor Lee said: ‘It is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of our esteemed colleague and dear friend, Mr Kar Teoh, a respected Trauma and Orthopaedic consultant who left us too soon on August 3, 2023.

The surgeon was a leading specialist, shot dead after taking a wrong turn in South Africa

A law enforcement officer fires rubber bullets during their clashes with protesters in Masiphumelele amidst an ongoing strike by taxi operators

A protester blocks the streets with stones and rubble during an ongoing strike by taxi operators against traffic authorities

‘Mr Teoh was more than a triple board certified specialist in Trauma and Foot & Ankle surgery.

‘He was a guiding light in our professional community, a devoted friend, and a cornerstone of many significant projects.

‘Kar’s commitment to medical excellence was recognised in several prestigious international travelling Fellowships (BOA, BOFAS, AO, SICOT, EFORT, IBRA), and he was an ardent proponent of research, and undergraduate and postgraduate education.

‘Yet, his professional accolades only paint part of the picture. For those of us privileged to call him a friend and colleague, Kar was a trustworthy and steadfast presence.

‘He was instrumental in the establishment and success of WelshBone in 2007, MSK Doctors in 2017, and the MSK Regen conference in 2023.

‘In each of these initiatives, Kar offered his unwavering support and played a critical role in their success.

‘The loss of Mr. Kar Teoh leaves a void in our hearts and our community. 

‘His professional dedication was unparalleled, but it was his personal warmth, his commitment to friendship, and his unwavering support that we will remember most fondly.

‘Our deepest condolences extend to his family and loved ones during this difficult time.’

Professor Lee added an email address had also been created for people to share memories saying it was important for ‘future generations’ and ‘for Hugo, Kar’s 2-year-old son, ensuring he grows up with a vivid picture of the incredible person his father was.’

A Just Giving page set up in memory of Mr Teoh with a target of £50,000 has already raised more than £25,000.

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