Bike speed features in Pistorius crash

2013-03-27 22:15
Carl Pistorius (Picture: Sapa)

Carl Pistorius (Picture: Sapa)

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Vanderbijlpark - A motorcyclist was speeding when she crashed into a bakkie being driven by Carl Pistorius, the brother of murder-accused paralympian Oscar, the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate's Court heard on Wednesday.

Kenny Oldwage, for Pistorius, put it to motorbiker Anton Coetzee that Maria Barnard was travelling at 147km/h in a 100km/h zone when she hit the back of the bakkie on 8 March 2008.

"I can't believe that," responded Coetzee, who was the State's first witness.

Oldwage said an accident scene reconstruction expert would testify to this and asked Coetzee if he could dispute it.

Coetzee responded: "I can't dispute it."

The court heard that the road where the accident happened was in a semi-agricultural area, and that there were often domestic animals on the road.

Coetzee earlier recalled the accident that led to culpable homicide charges being brought against Pistorius.

"The motorbike was very close to the back of the bakkie when the bakkie suddenly swerved to the right," Coetzee told the court.

"The motorbike hit the right back of the bakkie. It looked like the bakkie swerved out of the way for something. I had to brake to avoid the accident."

Coetzee said he and other motorbikers were participating in a "Poker-run" the day of the collision.

He told the court it looked as if there was nothing Barnard could do to avoid hitting the back of the bakkie, and that she was thrown forward 5m to 10m.

Oldwage said Carl Pistorius would testify that he was overtaking another car when the accident happened.

Didn't drink

During cross-examination, it was revealed that alcohol was available to the motorbikers on the ride.

Asked by Oldwage about bikers who were "intoxicated and displaying aggression" on the scene shortly after the accident, Coetzee said he was not aware of this.

Oldwage then said: "Two State witnesses confirmed there was a strong smell of alcohol on the breath of Barnard."

Coetzee said he could not say whether Barnard had consumed alcohol.

"In my presence, she did not consume alcohol," he said.

Under further cross-examination, Coetzee said Barnard had enjoyed the occasional single whisky.

Oldwage said that in documents before the court, Barnard's daughter indicated that her mother consumed red wine and whisky occasionally, and that she was on anti-depressant medication.

After the accident, Pistorius stopped the car, got out and made a phone call, Coetzee told the court.

Describing Barnard's injuries, Coetzee said her left forearm was stripped and her hand was bent back, and it looked as if her leg was broken. She died in hospital on 14 March 2008.

After lunch, Pistorius pleaded not guilty to a charge of culpable homicide charge and two alternative charges.

Prosecutor Johan Venter told the court the first alternative charge was reckless or negligent driving, and the second one was driving without reasonable consideration for another person using the road.

Magistrate Buks du Plessis asked Pistorius to plead on the first charge.

Standing in the dock, arms folded, looking at Du Plessis, Pistorius said: "I plead not guilty, your worship."

He also denied guilt on the two alternative charges.

Trial by ambush

On Wednesday morning, the court heard two applications: one by the SABC, to broadcast the trial; and the other by the State, to call new forensic experts.

Du Plessis ruled the SABC's application invalid. It had argued that the trial was in the public interest and that Pistorius was a high-profile person.

"The only reason the media is interested is because Mr Carl Pistorius is the brother of well-known athlete Oscar Pistorius," he said, dismissing the application.

In the other application, Venter said the State intended on calling new witnesses, but was not sure who.

Oldwage said the State's approach was a "trial by ambush".

During the proceedings Pistorius, who wore a black suit and a white shirt, sat in the dock chewing gum and occasionally making notes.

The Pistorius family and friends sat in the first and last rows of the public gallery. Verster said none of Barnard's relatives were present in court.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Medupe Simasiku said the State's application would not affect its case.

Oscar Pistorius is expected to challenge his bail conditions on Thursday.

He was granted bail of R1m by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on 22 February .

He has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend, law graduate and model Reeva Steenkamp, in his Pretoria home on 14 February.

His brother's trial was postponed to 3 April.


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