Oscar's paper trail comes back to haunt him

2014-03-24 21:53
(Bongiwe Mchunu, Pool)

(Bongiwe Mchunu, Pool)

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Oscar's trial - day 14 summary

2014-03-24 16:00

Reeva Steenkamp's hurt messages to Oscar Pistorius were read out during day 14 of Pistorius's trial. Jerusha Sukhdeo-Raath tells you everything you need to know.WATCH

Pretoria - Oscar Pistorius’s paper trail will likely come back to haunt him, as his correspondence to Reeva Steenkamp in the months prior to her death was read out in court.

Francois Moller, a police phone expert, testified after examining pages of texts, WhatsApp messages and other forms of digital communication.

If the State will contend that Pistorius was a jealous and angry lover, prone to outbursts and bouts of rage that frightened his girlfriend, it’s all there in the messages.

But firstly, it is getting nigh impossible to see how Pistorius will escape the charge of unlawfully discharging a firearm inside a restaurant, as many witnesses to the incident have testified, and he also mentions it in a message to his girlfriend, with the same instructions as were given to his friends: nobody was to know that he pulled the trigger and Darren Fresco would take the blame.

It ought to be fascinating to watch his legal team try and wriggle out of that one.

But of all the pages and pages of correspondence, Moller found several that were enlightening to the court. Pistorius was furious that his girlfriend smoked marijuana during a trip shooting a reality television show.

Her response was that she always had innocent, harmless fun. Later, the athlete apparently couldn't handle the way that she spoke to another man at a party, and he accused her of flirting with him.

After her denials, he still messaged her in a way that said that he wasn't happy with her at all.

Another set of messages seems to talk about another public blowout, with Pistorius criticising her in front of other people.

WhatsApp message

"You have picked on me incessantly... I do everything to make you happy and you do everything to throw tantrums. I am scared of you sometimes, how you snap at me and how you will react to me," Steenkamp wrote.

"You make me happy 90% of the time and I think we are amazing together... but I am not some other bitch... trying to kill your vibe... I'm the girl who fell in love with you but I'm also the girl who gets side-stepped when you are in a shit mood... I get snapped at and told my accent and voices are annoying."

We will await the defence's response to see where they will go with this one, but one possibility is to argue that the messages are inconsequential to the case - after all, Moller testified that the large majority of the correspondence was "normal and loving".

We could also get bogged down in technicalities if the defence teams finds a mistake in the way that the data was harvested.

Pistorius might come on the stand and offer a completely different story to the one that was teased out of the texts.

But it's pretty damning stuff. It was as if Steenkamp was speaking from the grave. The reaction of Pistorius in court as his messages were read out was as if he was hearing a ghost.

But he's sitting in court for killing her, and such exercises are placing a certain context on the incident.

It was necessary for the court to violate his privacy like this to try and find the truth about the relationship, as deeply unpleasant as it was to watch.

Together with the screaming that the neighbours are certain they heard, it is not implausible (at the moment) to fit the evidence to the reason why the State is arguing for murder.

Dewani trial

There is a good chance that once the Pistorius trial is over, a portion of the media circus will go off to Cape Town to follow the Shrien Dewani murder case. After a lengthy fight against extradition, the British courts finally ruled last week that he is fit to stand trial. He will be landing on 7 April.

It is a neat coincidence that after spending years fighting against appearing to answer for hiring hitmen to murder his wife on the basis that the South African criminal justice isn’t fit to handle the hearing fairly, he arrives in the midst of the most watched trial in the world. But in spite of putting off the trial for years to get treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, the inevitable must finally happen. (If his health deteriorates, South Africa will have to return him to Bristol.)

“We are working tirelessly to ensure that his return to our shores brings to finality this protracted legal process. We are confident that he will receive fair trial in our courts,” said justice department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga.

The judge who allowed broadcast cameras into the Pistorius trial said that it was in the public interest for justice to be seen to be done. This case is meant to be a showcase of South African justice. Dewani arrives in time to be the second big trial that the courts will doubtlessly enjoy using to show how they work.

Read more on:    reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius

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