The State and the defence on Tuesday (13/05/2014) argued over sending murder-accused Oscar Pistorius for mental observation after the High Court in Pretoria heard the athlete had general anxiety disorder.
“The timing [of the evidence] is significant. The timing of this evidence should come into play,” prosecutor Gerrie Nel said.
“My lady, the consultation happened after the evidence of the accused. There must be a reason why that consultation would take place at that time.”
Nel said he could not understand the timing of forensic psychiatrist Dr Merryll Vorster’s evidence if it was part of the defence’s case.
“Can it not be seen, my lady, as a fall-back?” Nel asked.
Vorster was called by the defence on Monday after she evaluated the paralympic athlete on May 2 and 7.
Nel read into the record a few cases where an accused person was sent for mental observation.
Barry Roux SC, for Pistorius, opposed the application and said the State was wrong to rely on those cases.
“The factual basis does not support the State. It is just a ruse to get a second opinion, and it is simply going nowhere,” Roux argued.
“The application has no merit, I must point out that we are calling a further witness that would talk about the vulnerability [of Pistorius].
“Apart from the absence of merit it is a premature application,” said Roux.
“For the moment we must take emotions out of it. Dr Vorster said look at the facts. There is no merit for the application.”
However, Nel said it was necessary to send Pistorius for evaluation even if it meant there would be a delay in the case.
Pistorius is charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He shot her dead through the locked door of his toilet in his Pretoria home on February 14 last year.
Pistorius has denied guilt, saying he thought she was an intruder about to open the door and attack him. The State contends he shot her during an argument.
Nel said “the red light” for the court should go on after Vorster’s evidence and the court should act.
“The accused was not the most impressive witness, isn’t that then the reason why a psychiatrist was consulted?” Nel said.
The initial defence was putative self-defence, then automatism, and now mental illness. He said the court should know what the defence is.
He said if the psychiatric disorder might have impacted on what happened it was necessary for the court to know.
“The risk the defence took by calling Dr Vorster at this time in the trial indicates that a psychiatric disorder may have played a role,” said Nel.
“This is not the end of the matter.”
Nel said he agreed with Roux that emotions should not be brought into the case.
He said the State was reacting to evidence from the defence and was only bringing the application to apply the law.
“I would also be so emotional if I called a witness and that witness opened the door for the referral of my client,” said Nel.
Pistorius is also charged with three contraventions of the Firearms Control Act – one of illegal possession of ammunition and two of discharging a firearm in public. He has pleaded not guilty to these charges as well.
A decision on the application would be handed down at 9.30am on Wednesday morning. – Sapa