Oscar Pistorius’s defence suggested on Wednesday (05/03/2014) a witness copied some details of his wife’s testimony during the paralympian’s murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria.
Barry Roux, SC, started the day’s cross-examination of Charl Johnson.
Johnson lives in the Silver Streams estate next to the Silver Woods Estate where Pistorius killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 2013.
But a few minutes in, he demanded to know why Johnson and his wife Michelle Burger had used some of the same words such as “screams fading” during their court testimony.
These words did not appear in their written statements to investigating officer Captain Mike van Aardt.
Roux wanted to know why neither written statement mentioned that the screams they said they heard were intense and filled with fear, but they used these words in their court testimony.
Neither statement mentioned a pause between shots, but their testimony did.
“Is it a coincidence?” asked Roux.
“I’m dealing with six of them in a row now.”
Johnson said written statements were more factual but the verbal telling was more emotional.
Roux rounded on him and said he was beginning to understand why Johnson did not testify straight after his wife.
Johnson is the third witness, with neighbour Estelle van der Merwe testifying between him and his wife.
Earlier, Johnson said that he had avoided all media until he had testified and had not discussed the case.
Roux seemed startled to hear from Johnson that his wife was nervous and wanted her testimony to be over.
Johnson said she said this when they were all in a holding room on the first floor of the court building where all the witnesses wait to be called.
Johnson started talking about the fact that his wife was better at counting than him because of her 20 years of aerobics teaching and piano playing.
“Mr Johnson maybe I must stop you – you don’t know what you are doing to yourself,” said Roux.
Talking about the music counting proved that he and his wife had discussed her testimony, because she had raised this in support of her ability to remember hearing four shots fired that morning.
Johnson said it was something they had spoken about long before.
“I can honestly say to you we did not discuss the evidence, I mean the testimony,” said Johnson.
Roux said as soon as witnesses start using the word “honestly” he started doubting them.
“Sometimes witnesses are not lying, but many times it is a reliability issue.
“You have not favoured the court with that Mr Johnson. You and your wife… you could just as well have stood together in the witness box. What do you say to that?”
As Johnson started answering, Judge Thokozile Masipa interrupted with: “Aren’t you going too far?” and Roux changed tack. – Sapa