CONSPIRACY theories and “completely implausible” testimony of police trying to frame Oscar Pistorius for the murder of model Reeva Steenkamp were smacked down by the prosecution in the Pretoria High Court yesterday.
This came as prosecutor Gerrie Nel – becoming known internationally as “the bulldog” – tried to show the improbability of Pistorius’s version of how Steenkamp, 29 – a former Port Elizabeth model – was killed on Valentine’s Day 2013. In dispute is: ý Whether a bedroom light was on when Pistorius woke shortly before the shooting;
Whether Pistorius went onto the balcony to scream for help;
Where the fans were in his bedroom; and
The position of his duvet, curtains and balcony sliding door.
Pistorius yesterday insisted the bedroom was in darkness, the curtains drawn and fans positioned between the slightly open sliding doors.
Crime scene photographs taken at 5.58am on February 14 last year show lights on, curtains fully open, the doors wide open and a fan foot positioned on the sliding door rail, the exact spot Pistorius would have had to run past to reach the balcony. Steenkamp was fatally shot at 3.17am.
Nel said Pistorius’s attempt to accuse police of tampering with the scene were not supported, given that pictures would have been taken even before police knew of his defence.
Nel said: “Is this one big conspiracy, Mr Pistorius? Whatever you are trying to do, Mr Pistorius, it is not working . . . your version is so improbable that no one would ever think it is reasonably possibly true . . . it’s so impossible.”
Asked his opinion, criminal defence lawyer William Booth said: “What is incredibly important is the differences in what he told the bail court and what he is now telling the trial court.”
In Pistorius’s bail application, he said there was one fan that he brought in from the balcony and that he spoke to Steenkamp when they went to sleep earlier in the evening.
In his plea explanation, he said he brought in two fans and that he spoke to Steenkamp when he woke up to bring in the fans.
Pistorius is accused of deliberately murdering Steenkamp following a heated argument. He maintains he mistook her for an intruder.
Nel, presenting Pistorius as an egotistical, narcissistic and negligent gun-loving individual who fails to take responsibility for his actions, grilled Pistorius on why he opened fire on a locked toilet door. “You say you fired by mistake?” “Yes,” Pistorius said, “I didn’t have time to think. There was a noise. I can’t remember how many shots I fired. I just fired … in quick succession.” Nel retorted: “You are a gun enthusiast who doesn’t have time to think.”
Pistorius agreed with Nel when he said the athlete had no reason to open fire.
“We know for a fact there were no intruders in your house that night, we know for a fact there was no ladder against the wall,” Nel said.
“We know that you had no reason to shoot, objectively speaking.” Pistorius replied: “That’s correct, my lady.”
Turning to the firearm and ammunition charges, Nel pushed Pistorius into admitting he had been negligent in storing ammunition for his father.
Then, dealing with the time a gun went off at posh Tasha’s restaurant in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, last year, Nel told Pistorius that if the gun passed to him by his friend Darren Fresco had a safety mechanism, this meant a shot could go off only if the trigger was pulled.
Pistorius refused to admit that he had pulled the trigger, although he conceded the gun had been in his possession.
Pistorius also told the court he had heard that Fresco and his ex-girlfriend, Samantha Taylor, had communicated with each other before testifying about him allegedly firing a shot through a car sunroof.
Pistorius denied he fired the shot and referred to the incident as a “fabrication”.
When Nel asked him who had told him of this collusion, Pistorius said: “People, my lady.”
“Which people?” Nel asked, to which Pistorius replied he could not remember, prompting laughter from Nel and the gallery, who were reprimanded by Judge Thokozile Masipa.
The judge told the public gallery: “Some of you may think that it is entertainment but it is not.”
– Graeme Hosken