State takes off gloves in Pistorius trial

2014-04-07 15:19
Advocate Gerrie Nel. (Themba Hadebe, AFP)

Advocate Gerrie Nel. (Themba Hadebe, AFP)

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Oscar's trial - day 17 summary

2014-04-07 15:36

Here's all you need to know of Oscar Pistorius's testimony when he took to the stand on day 17 of his murder trial in the North Gauteng High Court. Watch. WATCH

Pretoria - Prosecutor Gerrie Nel confronted the first defence witness testifying at Oscar Pistorius's murder trial in the North Gauteng High Court on Monday.

Retired pathologist Jan Botha had testified that he believed Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp first in the hip, then the arm, then the head in about four seconds, and then she died probably without being able to call out.

Botha, who has two fellowships in anatomical pathology under his belt, presented this evidence to Pistorius's lawyer Barry Roux SC, who has gained a reputation for exhausting every avenue in pursuit of an acquittal for his client.


At the first opportunity, Nel grilled Botha on his theory of the sequence of wounds, occasionally bringing the grey-haired professor to the point of irritation as he said: "I am not a ballistician".

Nel said: "You stood there, you gave evidence, you told the court, you said 'I know what the sequence is'."

"I said 'I believe', I didn't say 'I know', I'm not that presumptuous Mr Nel," Botha reacted.

Nel took Botha through the shot-by-shot sequence of Steenkamp's last moments in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year when Pistorius shot her as she was in the toilet cubicle of his Pretoria home.

Pistorius held his hands over his head when Botha described any anatomical details, but made a quick recovery to watch the adversarial exchanges between the two.

Botha conceded that Steenkamp may have fallen on top of a magazine rack in the toilet cubicle when Pistorius shot her.

This came after he was asked to examine a close-up of an injury to Steenkamp's back and a close up of the weave on the black top she was wearing when she was killed.


Earlier, Botha said he thought Steenkamp had not fallen onto the magazine rack after being shot in the hip, as suggested by State ballistics expert Captain Chris Mangena.

Botha said earlier that in his opinion she would have fallen down against it, but not on top of it.

He believed the injuries on her back were caused by her sliding against the magazine rack, and not from ricochets from the "black talon" bullets Pistorius used.

This was because there was blood spatter from Steenkamp's injuries on the front of the rack but not inside it.

Botha said, after looking at the pictures of the wound and the weave of the top Steenkamp wore when she died: "It is far more likely now that this has been brought to my attention that this was caused by a magazine rack rather than the weave."

Under questioning from Nel, he said he did not put it in his report because he did not consider it.

Sounding irritated, he told Nel that he was not working for the accused or the defence, he was just trying to help the court.

Bullet holes

Botha was earlier questioned about the bullet holes in the toilet door behind which Steenkamp was shot dead.

"I never commented on the sequence of holes in the door and their correlation with the sequence of the wounds," Botha said.

"You can't divorce the two," Nel challenged him.

He quoted from Botha's statement that "in all probability the sequence was... the first one [shot] was in the hip."

Nel pounced on a statement by Botha that he had taken the height of the holes in the door into account.

Botha replied: "It's not my job to determine which bullet hole corresponded with which wound. That is the ballistician's job."


Even Steenkamp had heard Pistorius shouting that there was an intruder in the house, events could have unfolded too quickly for her to have responded before she was shot dead, Botha testified earlier.

The pathologist said there would be a lapse of a few seconds for a person being told there was an intruder in the house and the police must be called.

She would have been behind a locked door and would probably have been in a panic.

He said if the shots were fired in four to five seconds and she was struck, she may not have been able to respond.

The court was dealing with whether Steenkamp could have cried out from behind the toilet door before Pistorius shot her dead.

Steenkamp was shot in the hip, arm and head at Pistorius's home on Valentine's Day last year.

Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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

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