Defence tests state’s ‘weak’ charge

2013-02-21 00:00

A SECURITY guard at the Silver Woods estate heard how Oscar Pistorius cried over the phone.

The guard spoke to Pistorius after the shooting in the early hours of February 14 in which Reeva Steenkamp died. Pistorius told him that he was “okay”, but did not hang up when they had finished talking.

In the background, the guard could hear Pistorius crying. His advocate, Barry Roux SC, said this showed a spontaneous emotional reaction and put it to the state’s witness that this fitted Pistorius’ version of the events.

The state’s witness, Warrant Officer Hilton Botha, answered that he knew of the security guard’s statement. He agreed that it supported Pistorius’ version that he had accidentally shot Steenkamp.

Yesterday, Roux put each of Pistorius’ answers to charges by the state to Botha to show that the prosecution’s case for a charge of premeditated murder was weak. The charge is a schedule 6 offence, which requires the accused to prove exceptional circumstances to justify his case for bail.

Roux said Reeva’s body showed no defensive wounds or signs of assault.

He added that her bladder was empty. “Her bladder was empty not because it was shot. This fits the accused’s version that she went to the toilet while he was outside on the balcony,” Roux said.

The state alleges that Steenkamp had locked herself in the toilet to get away from Oscar.

Roux put it to Botha that if a defenceless woman was using the toilet and she heard her boyfriend yell that there was an intruder, she would not run out of the toilet, but rather lock the door and remain quiet.

Botha testified that the police did not find evidence of a call to the emergency services on any of the four phones they found in Pistorius’ home.

Roux asked him if the police had called Netcare 911 to hear if they had received a call from Pistorius. Botha answered that the police had not done so.

The defence’s experts had searched Pistorius’s home after the police’s forensic and ballistic teams had finished their investigations.

Roux said their experts had found a spent cartridge in the toilet, which was given to the police.

He asked Botha if they had tested Pistorius’ version that the room was pitch-dark after he had closed the balcony door and drawn the blinds and curtains.

Botha said they had not.

“Well, we did. And it was pitch-dark,” Roux said. During questioning by advocate Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor, Botha was asked why Pistorius, who said he had felt terrified, would walk to the bathroom.

The state’s version is that Pistorius put on his prosthetic legs before he walked the seven steps down the corridor to shoot Steenkamp repeatedly.

Pistorius’s defence said he had only attached his legs when he realised he had shot his girlfriend in the toilet.

Nel said he found it difficult to believe that one could hear a suspicious noise and then not ascertain where one’s partner was.

When Botha said the police team had found two boxes of steroids, Nel interrupted him. Botha corrected his statement to say the police had found “two boxes of testosterone, needles and injections.”

Roux pounced and said the police should never have entered the testosterone as evidence. He said that instead of verifying information, the police had been introducing untested evidence.

He asked if Botha had read the label on the bottle, and Botha said he had not. The label states the content is testoconpasupium, which Roux said was a legal herbal remedy used by athletes.

Botha also testified that he had statements from two witnesses who said they had heard people yelling for a long time between 2 am to 3 am.

One witness then said he heard a shot, followed 17 minutes later by more shots, Botha said. Another witness spoke of a shot followed by screams, followed by more shots, he added.

Steenkamp was hit in the head, arm and hip in the locker-sized toilet cubicle adjoining the bathroom, which led from the bedroom. Botha said one witness lived about 600 metres from Pistorius’s home.During cross-questioning he admitted that the witnesses had not said that it was Pistorius and Steenkamp who had been yelling.

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