Oscar trial: Day 4 wrap up

2014-03-06 19:23
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Oscar's trial - day 4 summary

2014-03-06 14:10

See a summary of the shocking testimony during day 4 of Oscar Pistorius's trial in the North Gauteng High Court.WATCH

Pretoria – After four days of testimony from neighbours, who only overheard what they believe was the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp, we have finally “gone into the house”, reports Sipho Hlongwane.

On Thursday, Dr Johan Stipp was called to the stand.  He is a radiologist who lives in the Silver Woods Country Estate, adjacent to the home of Oscar Pistorius.

Unlike the other witnesses who spoke of screams in the early hours of 14 February 2013, he claims to have heard everything and was one of the first people on the scene.

Stipp spoke in concise, almost medical terms as he described a harrowing night and scenes at the Pistorius home.

He was woken on Valentine’s Day morning by three bangs, and looked across a 72m distance to the Pistorius house and saw the lights on.

He heard the sound of a woman screaming, and then a few moments later, more bangs or explosions.

He instructed his wife to keep low in case it was more gunfire. After being unable to obtain further information from a call to security, he drove over to see if he couldn’t assist as a medical professional.

When he arrived at the house, the complex manager Johan Stander had already arrived. He found that Steenkamp’s body had been brought downstairs, and Pistorius was trying to open her airwaves to get her to breathe.

The athlete was distraught, and begged him to save her life.

“I shot her. I thought she was a burglar, and I shot her,” Pistorius said.

Stipp testified that “Oscar was crying all the time. He prayed to God: 'Please let her live, she must not die.’”

But it was obvious to the doctor that Steenkamp was in a bad way.

A distressed Pistorius

Pistorius, who has remained eerily calm so far, finally showed signs of distress as the injuries to Steenkamp were described in court.

He bowed his head, and from the angle of the camera showing his image in the overflow room, seemed to be fighting not to throw up.

It was a deeply unpleasant moment, and we thankfully broke for lunch soon afterwards. The court also declined to show the images of the body on the monitors scattered around the room.

“I noticed that Oscar was going upstairs and I asked Mr Stander if he knew where the gun was because it was obvious that Oscar was emotionally very, very upset," Stipp said.

"I didn't know the situation in the house so I thought maybe he was going to hurt himself.”

He later returned home after giving his number to Stander for the sake of the police investigators.

As was shown by the defence lawyers during the bail hearing a year ago and again on Monday when Pistorius pled not guilty, they will argue that the police botched the investigation of the crime scene, and Stipp revealed a further detail to that effect.

Investigating officer

The hapless detective Hilton Botha, who first investigated the killing, may have made yet another mistake by signing and stamping Stipp’s first statement as if he was sworn in before it was taken. However, in court on Thursday, the witness had trouble remembering Botha and said that he wasn’t under oath when he gave the statement.

Botha was removed from the investigation after the South African Police Service found that he was facing an attempted murder charge of his own, but not before he was roundly humiliated in court by the defence lawyers.

His poor handling of the investigation will feature strongly in the case.

After days of Barry Roux battering state witnesses, the court drama finally pitted advocate against advocate, as the state prosecutor Gerrie Nel stood up to repeatedly deny that the defence should put to the witness that what he described as a second volley of gunshots was actually the cricket bat hitting the door.

A bat instead of a gun

Roux’s tactic with all the witnesses who testified about the 14 February incident has been to put it to them that they heard a door being broken instead of gunshots.

But Stipp was the first to reply that since both sets of sounds were similar, it could be that Pistorius hit the door and then fired.

The defence advocate also contends that the screaming must have been Pistorius’s, because the deceased was so injured by the shots that she couldn’t have screamed.

He has promised to bring witnesses to the court who will argue exactly that.

The state has shown its own hand for the first time by saying that it extracts a different timeline to the one described by Roux.

These are the theories behind the murder charge.

If the state can show that a woman screamed out when the shooting was happening and immediately after, it drastically weakens Pistorius’s story of mistaken identity.

Yet it wasn’t all backward rowing for Pistorius.

Stipp’s testimony that the sound of the door breaking and the gunshots were the same, places the testimony of neighbours who lived further away in a new light.

They might be adamant that they heard gunshots, but the defence now has the opportunity to say that they did not.

Stipp’s testimony was that Pistorius was begging him and God to save his girlfriend’s life, and appeared to be distraught far beyond the point of pretense.

“He definitely wanted her to live,” the doctor said.

Read more on:    gerrie nel  |  reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  barry roux  |  pistorius trial

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