Oscar ‘can’t claim self-defence’

2014-03-04 00:00

OSCAR Pistorius will not be able to argue that he was defending himself, because his life was not in immediate danger.

This was what advocate Johan Engelbrecht SC, whose high-profile clients have included Cézanne Visser (the so-called “advocate Barbie”), said last night in an interview on Beeld TV.

He said Pistorius’s legal team will have to submit that he acted in “putative self defence” on the night that he shot Reeva Steenkamp.

In terms of this defence, Pistorius could state that he shot four times because he thought his life was in danger and only realised afterwards he had made a mistake.

“It cannot be self-defence because the accused was objectively not in immediate life-threatening danger.”

Engelbrecht said if Pisto­rius’s thought processes had him convinced that his life was in danger, it must be determined if the thought process was that of a reasonable man.

The circumstances surrounding Steenkamp’s death will determine the reasonableness of Pistorius’s thought process.

André Grobler, an attorney, said the circumstances surrounding this include the fact that Pistorius shot four times through a closed door.

“There was no direct threat. It was a closed door.”

He said the fact that Pistorius had fired shots through a closed bathroom door while he knew someone was inside, showed he had meant to kill that person.

Engelbrecht said the state would have to prove this intent beyond reasonable doubt. “There is no burden of proof on the accused. He only has to create a reasonable probability that his version is the truth. The court does not have to believe him.”

He and Grobler agreed that Pistorius’s trial, apart from his international fame, does not include any unusual circumstances. “It is a normal murder trial. I think if one takes away the names of the persons and talk of the accused and the deceased, then all the glamour falls away.”

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