Pistorius trial; Day 10 - As it happened

2014-03-14 09:03

Get the latest details from day 10 of the murder trial of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius.


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Last Updated at 09:00
 Get the latest details from day 10 of the murder trial of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius. Get Thursday’s updates here.

14:58 - Right. We'll be closing updates now. Have a good weekend, everyone. Cheers.

14:57 - Oscar Pistorius has received support from his family and friends during his murder trial because he is a kind and generous person, a friend from Iceland has told Sapa.

Ebba Gudny Gudmundstottir and her mother flew from Iceland to Pretoria to support the athlete and his family as he faces murder charges after he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February last year.

"He is a very kind person, he is a good human being and you always feel safe and comfortable when you are around him," an emotional Gudmundstottir told Sapa.

"He takes care of his friends and he is there for them. He is very generous with his time and with his love and empathy.

"Oscar is just very special. That's why it is very difficult to understand what is going on here now."

14:50 - 

14:36 - The trial will re-start on Monday at 09:30. I'm going to try avoiding all Pistorius-related news again. I'm probably going to fail. 

14:35 - Court adjourns.  

14:34 - Roux back. VR tells him he's destroyed his notes from the investigation. Er, isn't this... inadvisable? 

14:32 - "It appears 'plakkies' is now an accepted term in this court," jokes reporter Charl du Plessis.

14:30 - VR: In the back of my mind I was focusing on an intruder, so focused on open window, no burglar proofing. 

14:29 - My first observation was seeing the fan. We asked after there's a fan but there's air con, says VR.

14:27 - Nel: it's difficult to re-examine because it wasn't put to you what you missed. Let's look at photo. What did you focus on?

VR: In the bathroom I focused on the cricket bat, then the firearm, then the cellphone, then blood. There were also towels.

14:26 - Sky News's Alex Crawfordtweets: "Screens go to black after another accidental showing of Reeva Steenkamp's injuries."

14:25 - Roux jokes he's trying to find more questions for VR as he's the last witness for the day. Even VR had to laugh. Nel questioning VR again.

14:24 - VR: Some of the small nitty gritty I did not see.

14:23 - VR remains adamant that scene was preserved for initial photos. Then investigation and stuff moved.

14:22 - VR says he remembered certain thing - some things get your attention.

14:21 - Roux: What is also significant is the fan was plugged out in one photo. I tested you every time.

14:20 - Roux wants to know who moved the fan. VR can't say who.

14:19 - Roux: Pistorius will say he brought in the fans, they were working because the air con was broken…

14:17 - The curtains were closed when this photo was taken. The photo was taken during the day. 

14:14 - Now we're seeing a photo of the stripped down bed. VR says it's him in the photo next to the bed. He's busy with the fan. He says he was checking the cable of the fan.

14:13 - VR says OP wasn't wearing a bloody shirt, he never wore a shirt that night. Botha said OP was wearing a bloody shirt.

14:10 - Roux refers to the picture showing the room, can see the watch box. Roux: There was in fact 9 watches.

14:08 - Back onto the photo of the keys in the front door. Roux wants to know what happened to either the back door or side door key. VR doesn't know. 

14:06 - VR says he doesn't says he doesn't accept statement Officer Sibeko's statement that he (Sibeko) was first on scene. VR says he was.

14:04 - Roux looking at photo of duvet spread out on the floor. VR pointed out in writing with the photo that this was not how duvet was found on scene. But Roux says this was not done with photoof the white cellphone.

Reporter Nastasya Tayasks: "Is Roux being a little unfair? If the iPhone was obscured, how could they photograph something they didn't know was there?"

14:03 - Roux still cross-examining Van Rensburg (VR). The lawyer has asked about how photos are taken at the crime scene. 

14:02 - Court resumes. Judge Masipa reminds Van Rensburg he's still under oath. 

14:01 - Barry "I put it to you" Roux has become the subject of many a meme. Eyewitness News has gathered a few. Take a look here.

13:49 - Barry Roux, SC, showed great interest in where former police officer Hilton Botha was during the first tour of the scene of Reeva Steenkamp's murder.

"Where was Mr Botha?" was a refrain Roux repeated as he cross-examined the first police officer on the scene, Colonel Giliam van Rensburg, during Pistorius's murder trial.

Van Rensburg was asked how he and Botha walked through the house where Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend Steenkamp on 14 February last year, a few hours after the alleged crime.

Van Rensburg said he did not know where Botha was, and did not see him touch or move anything.

Botha was the first investigating officer assigned to the case. It later emerged that he mishandled evidence. He subsequently resigned from the police and was replaced by Lieutenant-General Vineshkumar Moonoo.

13:17 - It’s Day 10 of the Oscar Pistorius Trial and there is still a long way to go before the verdict is heard. Catch up with The Chronology Of Eventsthat lead to this trial on oscartrial.com.

13:16 - Oscar Pistorius walks to the court this morning. (Herman Verwey, Media24)

13:14 - Barry Roux and some of his team outside the North Gauteng High Court this morning. (Herman Verwey, Media24)

13:05 - "Pistorius catches a witness stand mic cable and reaches over to readjust the mic with a [slight] smile for van Rensburg, who is grinning," tweets The Guardian's David Smith.

13:00 - Court adjourns for lunch. Back in one hour. 

12:58 - VR: First pics taken of scene are most important as they indicate what he saw when pics were taken.

12:57 - Roux wants to know when "you can rely on a scene photo". Do you take a photo of a scene as it is, he asks.

12:56 - VR explains that the white cellphone was covered with a towel, it was hidden. Photo shows it lying on tiles. Roux asks about this - "this could not have been the scene when you entered the bathroom".  

12:54 - VR: cricket bat wasn't lying with it's flat side up, with the signatures up. 

Roux now moves onto the cellphones... He asks what the photo of the white cellphone portrays.

12:53 - Roux: you must have seen the cricket bat, with signatures. VR: I wrote the statement two days later...

12:52 - Colonel, we're dependent to see through your eyes, to see what you saw for the first time, says Roux. VR agrees.  What you describe is what you observe, says Roux. 

12:51 - Roux moves back to one of VR's statements.

12:49 - VR says keys were sealed in evidence bag and taken to the police station. Thereafter it was left in the safe in my office. VR looks really annoyed right now. And just sighed heavily.

12:47 - Now we're looking at a close-up of keys. "It's not a trick question, I see you don't want to make observations anymore," says Roux who's asking VR about which keys these are. 

12:46 - VR says the fan was standing in front of the door, not where it's shown in the photo.

12:45 - And we're back. Looking at a photo of the fan in the bedroom.

12:42 - Court adjourns for a few minutes.

12:40 - Roux: It's not an observation test... How many keys did you see there?

We’re looking at a close up of a set of keys, one in a door lock with several remote controls hanging from it.

12:38 - VR appears to be explaining why he didn't pick up on different seals used on front door. Because the photos on the TV screen were changed quickly.

12:37 - Roux says different sealing was used on the front door. Hence his question about VR's powers of observation. 

12:37 - Roux: You were concerned about securing scene? VR: Yes.

12:35- Roux: How do you feel about your ability to observe? VR mumbles a response.

12:34- Court shown photo of what looks like front door sealed with police tape.

12:33 - VR is now standing straight up, hands clasped in front of him. He says court is welcome to check movement trackers in police vehicles. He was first on scene, he insists.

12:31 - Maluleke statement suggests Botha arrived later than Van Rensburg claimed.

12:29- Roux is now reading another statement from Captain Maluleke, who says he too went upstairs and met VR, saw six watches and not eight.

12:28 - Roux suggests he has a batch of statements to contradict VR's testimony about which police were where and when.

12:27 - Roux now asking about four cartridges laying around bathroom, toilet door broken.

12:25 - Botha was not in the bathroom, says VR as Roux reads from his (Botha) statement.

12:24 - Roux still reading from Botha's statement in which he says he went upstairs and noticed blood. "Amazing," responds VR. He says Botha hadn't gone upstairs before him (VR).

12:22 - It's not indicated in the statement where Botha was, says VR.

Roux reads bits of Botha's statement. Wants Van VR to comment on key points.

12:21 - Roux says when Botha arrived, OP was in the garage. Roux: You went up, not you and Botha.

VR says OP was in the kitchen and then moved to the garage.

12:18 - Roux asks VR about going upstairs and if Botha was with him.

Roux: Where is Hilton Botha in your statement? VR: Sometimes you write "I" meaning he was with. Roux: It's nowhere.

12:17- Roux is doing that slow talk thing again. If I were in the witness box I'd be shaking in my boots.

12:15 - He's also clarified position of cartridges as stated in affidavit. 

12:12 - VR wrote in initial statement Ms Steenkamp called the paramedics... "It's supposed to be Ms Stander"

12:10 - VR painstakingly going over statement and making some changes. He admits to a few minor discrepancies - one about addition of plastic bags, one about OP's emotional state.

12:06 - Roux asks VR if, having re-read his first statement, there's anything he wants to alter. He says yes...

12:03 - VR asked to look at exhibit FF, the inventory of the crime scene.

The inventory refers to Oldwage removing items - medals, cash and safe contents. Roux: "What does that mean?"

12:01 - I didn't control the seizure of the firearm, the magazine and the holster, says VR.

12:00 - Additional banners were fixed to the front of the door,says VR.

11:58 - VR says he left the scene in the afternoon of 14 February. Says he sealed the scene by locking the door, food taken out for dogs. Took the gardener's keys to make sure he doesn't access scene. Guards looked after scene.

11:56 - Forensics arrived during the morning, says VR. 

11:56 - Roux to VR: I think as an experienced policeman you would know not to interfere with the scene except to take photographs.VR agrees.

11:53 - VR: Cricket bat was lying next to the basin. Saw signatures of people on the bat.

11:51 - VR explains about the cellphones in the bathroom. Says he didn't initially see it in the bathroom. Explains about confusion with Hilton Botha about cellphones. Says white cellphone was covered by white towel. Botha pointed out white phone to him.

11:50 - First photograph scene as it is, then investigate further, says VR.

11:48 - When the photographer, Van Staden arrived, Botha and VR took him along the blood trail, says VR.

11:47 - Roux trying to get clarity from Van Rensburg on who was where in the house and when on night of shooting. 

11:45 - Both, myself and Officer Van Staden went back upstairs, VR confirms.Says Botha was assisting photographer.

11:45 - VR: Where was Botha when you were downstairs? Van Rensburg says he can't remember

11:43 - OP's brother, Carl, was there. Mr Stander's daughter was there. Can't remember if he was too. From the police, Seargent Sabetha (will double check spelling) was there too. Can't remember where Botha was. 

11:43 - I told him I regard him as a suspect given what I saw in the bathroom. Roux asks who else was in the house at this time.

11:41 - I asked OP if he and Reeva were alone in the house, says VR. He said they were.

11:40 - Roux continues cross-examining Van Rensburg (VR).

11:40 - Court resumes.

11:25 - Day 9 of the Oscar Trial involved a graphic exploration of the evidence, watch the summary of events to find out what happened in court.

11:24 - It's unusual for High Courts to hear criminal cases on a Friday. Oscar Pistorius's case is an exception, explains William Booth.

11:15 - Court adjourns for tea. 

11:14 - VR confirms the bathroom window was open. Did not see the toilet window, says VR. You thought I wanted to catch you out by saying there isn't a toilet window, says Roux. VR smiles. There is a toilet window, says Roux.

11:13 - Roux: "Were you acutely aware that you should not disturb the scene." Van Rensburg says he was. Roux: "Where was Mr Botha at this time?

11:12 - VR doesn't know why, but his attention was drawn to the two plakkies (sandals for non-South Africans) on the left of bed. 

11:11 - VR: Botha was inside when I was outside... I didn't see anything outside, didn't pick up anything with hands. 

11:09 - VR says there were ladders lying flat on the balcony floor outside OP's bedroom. 

11:07 - VR says he was in the bathroom for a few minutes. VR says he didn't disturb anything in the bathroom. Nor did Botha.

11:07 - Roux: You then decided to follow the blood spatter. VR: That is correct.

11:04 - If you're the first person on the crime (scene) you see certain things, says VR. The first things you see are incorporated into your statement. When I first entered, I didn't see the baseball bat (which was behind the bedroom door).

11:04 - VR says he picked up the metallic fan. The curtains of the balcony door were open.

11:03 - We didn't know what we'd find...so I observed overview, says VR of main bedroom. 

11:02- Explains to Roux how he went to main bedroom. now telling what he saw in the bedroom.

11:01 - Unsure what the time was when he was at the house but it was very early in the morning, says VR. Tells Roux he went upstairs.

10:59 - VR confirms his his actions when at OP's house.

10:59 - VR says he appeared so emotional, he couldn't answer questions.

10:58 - Roux asks about OP's emotional state on that day. VR says he was very emotional. He was upset, crying. 

10:57- If a criminal really wants to commit a crime, a security gate won't stop him, confirms VR. 

10:57- Roux asks VR to read through statements during break. Talking as if to a little child.

10:55 - Second statement made on 8 May. Taken by Cpt Van Aardt. No stamp on statement though. First statement made on 16 February last year.

10:54 - Roux has handed copies of his statements to VR.

10:52 - Karyn Maughanof eNCA tweets: I asked Hilton Botha last year if he expected to be called as witness. "They have to call me," he said, "they CAN'T not call me."

10:50 - Roux asks if VR is satisfied with his answer. "100% sure," responds VR. Him and Botha were the first upstairs. 

10:48 - Roux asks who the first person was to go upstairs after medics, Standers. VR confirms it was him and Botha (read more about him here).

10:46 - VR seems to be getting increasingly nervous or uncomfortable. This is understandable given the reputation Roux has got for himself in the last few days.

Roux is trying to get VR to admit to having left out certain things from his statement to Botha. 

10:45 - VR made two statements. Second answered certain questions posed by investigating officer.

10:44 - When my first statement was made, I did not mention things like the open door in the main bedroom, says VR. Roux: What else?

10:42 - Roux to VR: You’re a senior officer, you wouldn’t omit material facts in your statements?

10:41- Roux is basically suggesting that the State is trying to avoid calling Botha as a witness.

10:40- Roux asking VR if he's standing in for Hilton Botha as a witness. "You're standing in for Mr Botha's evidence on aspects that you cannot speak on."

10:39 - It might just be me (it's probably just me) but Roux looks like he's enjoying this. A small smile is creeping over his face.

10:38 - Roux asked earlier if VR went upstairs with Hilton Botha. Roux asks if State is going to call Botha to the stand. Nel says he doesn't know yet.

10:37 - Roux starts by saying he's trying to understand something. Speaks slowly. Roux asks for Officer Vermeulen again.

10:35- VR says he's now a coach. "Sports is my life."

Time for Roux. I'm scared. "Now there's trouble," my colleague goes. Indeed.

10:33 - The door was sealed with another seal. Defence's forensic expert took photos of this too. Kept it in office until I handed over to Officer Van Staden.

10:32 - 18 February, defence requested to see the door. So "we break the seal" says witness. "Small splinters falling out."

10:32 - VR: the police station evidence store was packed to capacity.

10:31 - I was the only person in control of office where door was kept, VR says.  Nobody else tampered with that evidence. 

10:31 - VR: I signed for the evidence and kept it in my office, there is good security in my office - I am only person with key.

10:29 - Problem of loose panels on the door, says VR. He worried that the body bag would split during transportation.

10:28 - VR says it was a challenge to find something to move it in - thus the body bag. Also a challenge to find a vehicle to move the door in.

10:26- VR says some in media were willing to pay big money for pictures of the door. Decided on 15 February to take down the door. It's the most valuable evidence of the scene, says VR.

10:26 - VR says police finalised scene investigation on 17 February.

10:25- VR says that the days after the shooting the scene was properly sealed and access controlled.

10:23 - Before leaving that night, VR locked up and sealed house and made sure the dog had food. The next day two guards were there at all times. 

10:22 - VR was again furious about the gun being handled without gloves.

10:21 - Ballistics expert handled the firearm without gloves on. He cocked it and removed the magazine. VR pointed this out to him and he immediately put the gun down. More (pardon the pun) ammo for Roux. 

10:18 - VR says he didn't handle firearm but witnessed someone handle it.

10:16 - So to clarify (if there's any confusion): One watch was taken by Aimee, OP's sister and the other was stolen.

This (obviously) doesn't look good for the police and I expect Roux is going to rip the police to shreds for stealing evidence/ something from a crime scene.

10:15 - VR says he was furious about missing watch. Each person entering and exiting the scene was documented. Each exhibit they took was sealed.

10:14 - Access control was in place at the house, says VR. In the morning, there was also access control to the estate. That helped a lot to keep the media out. 

10:12 - Cpt Van Aardt took the watch box for fingerprinting. The six remaining watches were handed back to the accused.

10:12 - VR: While collecting the evidence it became clear we had a prima facie case - I arrested him.

10:10 - While the missing watch was reported, OP was sent to police station, says the police officer. VR earlier said he warned OP that things might go missing from his house as he's a celebrity and people might want to take things as "memorabilia". How bizarre.

10:09 - Warned the accused that if anything else was missing, OP must report it. Nothing else has been reported, says VR.

10:08- VR says he reported missing watch to everyone, including seniors and OP. You can be sure Roux is going to pounce on this.

10:06- Searched the whole house, body searched everyone on scene and couldn't find the watch. VR says he personally opened a case docket for 2nd missing watch.

10:05 - He says the vale of the missing watch was R50K to R100K.

10:04 - VR has switched to English. VR now says police photographer told him that OP's sister took one of his watches.

10:02- Now looking at a photo of the TV stand where the watch box is. VR says he had his back to watch cases. When he turned around, he saw watch on left bottom corner was missing.

10:01 - VR: Forensic team divided up their work, Van Staden apologised for starting without commander... they informed me of their plans.

9:59 - VR says after OP was arrested, he found the forensic team in the bedroom.

9:57 - It sounds as if VR is implying that he feared some of the expensive watches would have gone missing during the investigation. Which doesn't say much for his confidence in his former colleagues...

VR says after OP was arrested and taken away he noticed forensic team wasn't as busy on the ground floor.

9:56 - I told the photographer I need photos of those watches and told them to keep an eye on them, says VR. You could see blood smears on the container of the watches.

9:56 - I told myself that those watches were tempting because they're expensive, says VR.

9:55 - Nel: let's talk about the watches... you saw the container that morning? Van Rensburg: Yes, 8 in total.

9:54 - 

9:53- Did you ask anyone to go upstairs besides photographer, asks Nel. Yes, at a later stage, his sister asked to go get clothes for him, says VR.  Made sure that everything she took was documented.

9:51 - Nel: Did anyone else besides the photographer go upstairs? Van Rensburg: No.

9:51 - VR and detective Botha took police photographer up to bathroom to take more pictures.

9:51 - VR: The photographer turned the deceased over while photos of her were also taken.

9:47 - At that stage, Mr Stander and Mrs Stander were the persons who had access to the accused, the accused's brother, Carl, also arrived at the scene. They were the only ones with access to him then.

After that, Not sure who called a lawyer, but one arrived soon after.

9:46 - There was still some information to follow up, that's why I didn't arrest him just yet. Needed to make sure I had all the facts before arresting him.

9:44 - I asked the accused if he and Reeva were alone in the house. He said yes, they were. I told him that in light of what I saw, I observe him as a suspect, says VR.

I told him of his rights and that I wasn't arresting him at that stage.

9:42- Well, this is odd: "The man sitting next to me has a DOJ tag & has what looks like his 14 or 15 year old son in court looking at these graphic pictures," tweets The Star's Theresa Taylor.

Court now shown photo of OP from that night. He's on his prosthetics (sorry, said previously he was on was his stumps). He's shirtless, wearing shorts. There's blood on the back of his left arm.

9:39 - VR is shown a close up of Steenkamp’s head, confirming that that is how she was found. (This isn't being shown on TV)

9:38- Photo 124 is a close-up of the bloody toilet bowl. This is the scene that Colonel VR came upon.

9:37 - Photo 122 is of the toilet bowl. There's lots of blood inside the bowl and next to it.

9:36 - Another photo showing the broken wooden panel on the floor of the bathroom. There was human tissue (in my opinion) underneath the panel, says VR. OP is focused on his lap again.

9:35 - Now looking at a photo of the bathroom window on the second floor from outside the house.

9:34 - VR says he checked to see whether there was forced entry or if the window was tampered with. He looked to see if anyone could have gained entry.

9:33 - Prosecutor Gerrie Nel refers Van Rensburg (VR) to a photo in the bathroom of the windows.

9:32 - And we're off. Colonel Van Rensburg still in the witness box. 

9:30 - OscarsTrialtweets - "overheard: 'at least the door's not the least intelligent witness we've had so far." #journowisecracks"

9:24 - Today a bucket, tomorrow a toilet, writes Sapa. As the Oscar Pistorius trial heads for day 10, everybody's favourite non-fiction court room drama is making for comedy too.

Chester Missing joked: "That's not rain over Pretoria, it's witnesses sweating before Barry Roux."

Perhaps there would be justice for voters and tax payers, the satirist continued, if Pistorius's tireless lawyer was sent south to Cape Town to cross-examine elected politicians.

"The first hour in Parliament every morning should be Barry Roux asking them questions."

9:20- Reporter Phillip de Wet's... unhappiness about covering the trial isn't going anywhere just yet: "Welcome to #OscarPistorius day 10: now with twice the inconsequential detail to lose yourself in."


9:08 - Pistorius has arrived at court, surrounded by his bodyguard cousins. He's wearing his specs again.

8:41 - Someone almost forgot the D...

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