Media warned to behave

By Drum Digital
28 March 2013

Local and international journalists attending murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius's application to have his bail conditions altered were warned to comply with court rules on Thursday.

"When the matter starts this morning there must be silence," Deputy Judge President in the High Court in Pretoria Willem van der Merwe said.

"You must comply 100 percent with the conditions set out by the court."

He was speaking ahead of Pistorius's appeal of the conditions that set the terms of his release on bail following the shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14.

He complained the number of microphones in the court was interfering with the recording equipment and made the sound "horrible". The court, however, understood the role the media played in reporting the case to the public, he said.

"If there is any interference we will stop all recordings," Van der Merwe warned television and radio journalists before proceedings started.

"The court recording is the most important."

At least a dozen microphones were set up on the table in front of the legal teams. About 12 television cameras were also set up in court.

Judge Bert Bam was expected to preside over Thursday's application.

Meanwhile, prosecutors Gerrie Nel and Andre Johnson, and Pistorius's defence team Andrew Fawcett and Kenny Oldwage, were waiting for court to begin at 10am.

Pistorius was not expected in court on Thursday.

Fawcett and Oldwage had spent Wednesday in the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate's Court representing Pistorius's brother Carl. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of culpable homicide following the death of a 36-year-old biker Marie Barnard in March 2008. He allegedly knocked her off her bike with his bakkie. That case was postponed to April 3.

Advocate Barry Roux, who led Oscar Pistorius's defence in his original bail application, was also present on Thursday.

Pistorius has not pleaded, but said in his bail application he thought there was an intruder in the house when he fired shots through a closed toilet cubicle door, killing Steenkamp.

His lawyers want a number of conditions altered, including his travel ban. In court papers they argue the ban on his consuming alcohol is unwarranted.

He also wants clarity on whether he can visit his home at the Silverwoods Country Estate in Pretoria where Steenkamp was shot. And he wants a list of State witnesses at the estate within 30 days to prepare his defence.

He also intends challenging the requirement that he report twice a week to the Brooklyn police station.

The new investigating officer in the case, Mike van Aardt, was also present. He replaced the first investigating officer, Warrant Officer Hilton Botha, who resigned.

Botha was criticised during the bail application for his handling of the case. It also emerged that he faced attempted murder charges related to a shooting during an unrelated investigation.

-by Sapa

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