'I never doubted my evidence' - News24 speaks to Oscar ballistics expert

2015-12-04 12:21
Police ballistics expert Chris Mangena. (Picture via Skype)

Police ballistics expert Chris Mangena. (Picture via Skype)

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Johannesburg – Police ballistics expert Chris Mangena never doubted his evidence in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial even though a High Court judge did - and now he has been vindicated.

But not only that, the sensational murder trial that was televised across the world has seen his career catapult, creating exciting new opportunities for Mangena and his unit.

Mangena, who has since become the go-to person for criminal investigations, said he was unfazed by the High Court not taking into account his testimony about the four bullet holes in the door of the toilet cubicle where Pistorius's girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was shot and killed.

- WATCH: Does Oscar sentence reflect badly on SA justice system?

“I was definitely sure he knew it was Reeva behind that door,” Mangena told News24 on Friday.

“I could tell by the way the bullets went through the door and the evidence I collected pointed to that fact. It was not just any intruder he was shooting at, it was Reeva and he meant to kill her.

“I just couldn’t prove it.”

‘The case is what matters’

Mangena said while he was disappointed that High Court Judge Thokozile Masipa had dismissed his findings, he was confident of his work.

“It didn’t matter to me that she [Masipa] ignored my work. I gave evidence, I did the job and I could sleep at night knowing that I did all I could to make sure that Reeva did not die in vain,” he continued.

“People can see now that the evidence I gave was vital to the case. The case is all that matters.”

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled in favour of the State, setting aside the 2014 culpable homicide conviction by the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.

SCA Justice Eric Leach said Masipa ignored Mangena’s evidence in her ruling. He said there was "an absence of the appreciation of material evidence".

He added that Mangena, was of "particular importance", but was "seemingly ignored" by the trial court.

Ballistics investigations crucial

“I can’t tell you how happy I am. This judgment further qualifies the work done by ballistics investigators and it affirms the importance of evidence collection on the scene.

“When I was called to the scene at Oscar’s house, I was able to see a trail of evidence that no Investigating Officer (IO) could. What I see on the scene is not the same as what IOs see. That is what changed the mood of the case,” Mangena told News24.

A little while after the Pistorius murder trial, Mangena was promoted to head of the Forensic Science Laboratories of South African Police Service: Detective Services – Ballistics Unit, Pretoria.

“The promotion is not only about Oscar. Yes, because of this case, my career catapulted. This case opened a lot of doors for me and the ballistics division.

“I travel to different parts of the country and help solve cases now. More often than not, it’s the courts who want us to investigate, because of the work done with Oscar. It’s opened a lot of doors for me and my team. The challenge now is to live up to the pressure of this work,” he said.

Mangena said he would celebrate the judgment with his team when his work was done in Durban.

“Unfortunately we don’t have much time to celebrate because we have to jump from case to case. My superiors haven’t called to congratulate me yet, but we will see if we can have a small celebration of good police work,” he said.

Mangena is currently working on another high profile case in Durban.

Read more on:    reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  johannesburg  |  pistorius trial

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