Nel vs Roux heats up

2014-03-19 08:16

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State prosecutor Gerrie Nel has poured cold water on claims that the crime scene at Oscar Pistorius’ house was ruined by police.

Yesterday’s testimony saw the legal battle between Nel and Pistorius’ lawyer, Barry Roux, hotting up, with the prosecutor delivering a spirited re-examination of a witness whose testimony Roux had spent the largest part of the day trying to pick apart.

Roux’s chief line of attack was that Warrant Officer Bennie van Staden, the police photographer who worked on the Pistorius investigation, had lied when he said he was alone when he photographed the scene.

Roux used electronic dates from photographs taken by a Colonel Motha, who was apparently also on the scene, to show that the two officers were working in the same area at the same time.

According to the time data from the two cameras, Motha snapped a photo in the bathroom a mere minute after Van Staden did.

“And you did not see him?” asked Roux, to which Van Staden replied: “No, I did not.”

Roux then quipped: “How big is the bathroom,” which elicited sniggers from the public gallery.

Roux also interrogated Van Staden about various objects, which, he said, had been photographed in different positions.

These included the flip-flops on the left side of the bed, the fans next to the bed, and the gun, photographed on a bath mat.

Roux focused on the Lazer cricket bat that Pistorius had used to break down the toilet door, which was found on the bathroom floor.

He pointed out that the edge of a bathroom tile under the bat appeared to pass underneath the “e” of “Lazer” in one photo and through “r” in a subsequent one.

“It seems there was movement of the bat, that it was picked up and not placed back in the same position,” said Roux.

But Nel, in his re-examination, made light work of the allegation that the bat had been moved by getting Van Staden to admit that the two photos had been taken at different angles.

Nel also had Van Staden point out fixed spots on the two photos where the bat appeared to be in exactly the same position.

“So even if we give Mr Roux the benefit of any doubt, that bat was moved only a millimetre,” said Nel.

Nel also referred to a photo, which Motha had taken, of the small passage that leads to the bathroom.

At the same time, Van Staden was supposedly taking a photo of a shell casing in the passage.

“You must have been in the same passage, do you see yourself there?” asked Nel, referring to a photo of an empty passage.

“No,” replied Van Staden, later also confirming that nothing in the crime scene had been moved before it was photographed for the first time.

Captain Christian Mangena, a police ballistics expert, will today testify about his investigation of the four shots that were fired through the bathroom door.

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