Barry Roux: State is trying to avoid calling Hilton Botha as a witness

2014-03-14 14:49

Oscar Pistorius’ lawyer has accused the state of attempting to avoid calling disgraced former investigating officer Hilton Botha to the witness stand.

Former Boschkop police station commander Schoombie van Rensburg testified that he and Botha were the first police officers to follow a blood trail up the stairs to the bathroom where Steenkamp was killed.

But Barry Roux, the advocate representing Pistorius in the murder trial, began his cross-examination of Van Rensburg by saying he “was called to court to come give evidence wider than you can really go ... to make it unnecessary for the state to call Mr Botha.”

Roux asked state prosecutor Gerrie Nel if he intended to call Botha, but Nel would only say: “I don’t know yet”.

Van Rensburg’s testimony-in-chief had largely been a damning indictment of police conduct at the scene.

Not only did one of Pistorius’ expensive wristwatches in a display case in his bedroom go missing, but a so-called “ballistics expert” picked up Pistorius’ firearm without gloves.

A “furious” Van Rensburg told the court he had to call everyone present on the scene into the garage to body-search them.

Despite also searching the police cars and bags of the forensic experts on the scene, the watch could not be located.

Van Rensburg also said at one stage he found a “ballistics expert” who was handling Pistorius’ gun without any rubber gloves on.

“I said: ‘What are you doing?’ and he said: ‘Sorry’.

“He put the magazine back in the firearm and put it back on the ground. He took his gloves from his pocket and put (them) on his hands,” said Van Rensburg.

During cross-examination, Roux questioned whether Van Rensburg had lied about being the first officer on the scene who accompanied Botha upstairs.

Van Rensburg testified that when he arrived on the scene, he found Pistorius in the kitchen. He then said he went upstairs with Botha, after which they moved Pistorius to the garage.

But, as Roux pointed out, Van Rensburg’s statement does not refer to Botha accompanying him up the stairs.

Botha’s statement also says when he arrived, Pistorius was already in the bathroom.

This would have meant that Van Rensburg had already been upstairs and back down again.

Two other statements also seem to contradict Van Rensburg’s testimony, which was that no other officers were allowed upstairs after he and Hilton Botha had gone up.

The cross-examination is continuing.

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