True crime and trial opinions from a layman's perspective
Today began with June Steenkamp asking Mr. Nel to present a clarification for the court on her behalf. Yesterday Nel had asked Oscar why he hadn’t tried to reach out to the Steenkamp family prior to his apology in court. June wanted to set the record straight that he did and they were not ready to speak with him.
A very classy move on her part! And perhaps a little inspiration for him to do the same with them.
Nel starts off the exam by establishing that Oscar is Christian and he wanted a Christian partner. Reeva was not his first Christian partner.
Oscar states that Reeva prayed for him, she prayed with him and she wanted to be a better person and also listened to Christian music. Nel doesn’t really continue with this line of questioning and jumps in to the next topic.
Nel wants to discuss the crime that Oscar has experienced in his life. Oscar says he had a case against the South African police service in 2009 for wrongful arrest.
Nel tells him that he is not answering the question. The question was has he reported any crime at the police station. Oscar says no he has not. Nel wants to know why he didn’t if he had been exposed to crime.
Oscar says he can go through the crimes again with the court. He was a victim of a house breaking and a TV went missing. He didn’t think anything could be done about it. He didn’t have insurance at the time. There was no reason to report the crime.
He also talks about when he was shot at on the highway. He didn’t want to go to the police station; he didn’t think they’d be able to do anything about it.
When he was assaulted in December 2012, he didn’t want to go to the police station because the person who he had spoken to on the cell phone that night had connections at the police station so Oscar was fearful to go to the police. Because of this, Justin Devaris organized a meeting at the Hawks and they went straight to them.
The Hawks are South Africa’s new Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI). They target organized crime, economic crime, corruption, and other serious crime referred to it by the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS).
Nel asks Oscar if he was ever a victim of crime at his home in Silverwoods where he has lived since 2008. Oscar says no, except for the police stealing his watches.
Nel establishes that several times while Oscar lived in Silverwoods Estates the security was increased. Oscars say yes, due to breaches they had to increase measures but since he wasn’t there quite often he wasn’t at any estate meetings about this.
Nel points out that he felt it was safe enough to leave the cars outside and not in the garage. Oscar says he never thought that somebody would break in to his car.
Nel then states he must have felt it was safe enough not to fix the broken glass in the downstairs window. Oscar says he was in the process of fixing it and had already purchased the glass. Nel says, but it had been broken for a while and Oscar says that’s correct. Oscar says there’s a latch at the top and the bottom of the window that would not be reachable. Nel establishes that there’s no burglar proofing on any of the windows.
Remember in Oscar’s bail affidavit he felt it important to point out that the bathroom window didn’t have burglar bars on it. Well the reality is, none of his windows had burglar bars on them. That statement in his affidavit was misleading.
Nel wants to know how long the contractors had been working on the house prior to the incident and Oscar says about a week. Nel asks if he was concerned about the ladders that were left out in his yard every night. Oscar says he was concerned, he asked the building contractor to put them in the garage at night. He doesn’t remember checking it every night, but one night they were in there.
Nel points out on the night in question he did not check if the ladders were outside and he says he did not. Nel asks why, was that not important? Oscar says it was important to him but he doesn’t know why he didn’t check.
Nel then says, but you were up to date on the improvements to security at the estates and Oscar says no, that’s contrary to what he said earlier. He wasn’t up to date but he got information from his neighbors.
Nel says this is interesting because if he is so concerned about his safety, he would have expected him to find out exactly what measures were being taken. Oscar says he spoke to various neighbors in the estate, he can’t remember what was being done and when it was being done, but was aware of the improvements.
The estate had to build up a fund to make these improvements and when Oscar would speak to Johan Stander, the estate administrator (accounting person) he would tell Oscar about incidents that happened while he was away. And sometimes Oscar would also get incident reports.
Nel wants to now review Oscar’s alarm system. Oscar says it is comprised of internal and external sensors. It works through a monitoring box with a back-up battery pack if there are power failures. It also has a remote. There’s one button to arm, one to disarm and one to only arm the outside sensors so you can move about your home inside.
On the night in question, Oscar activated the alarm on the inside and the outside of the house. Nel asks, so before that night you were satisfied that there were enough systems in place that if somebody came up to your home from outside, the alarm would pick it up? Oscar says no, that’s not what he said.
He states that he said in his chief testimony that they were building at his house and it was possible that they had taken a sensor off the wall. When they had previously painted the house, they had taken the beacon (sensor) off the wall and it doesn’t have memory of what it saw last time it was activated. He wasn’t confident in those sensors. He knew there was a possibility that if they were painting, they may have taken the sensors off.
Nel asks him when the house was previously painted. Oscar says it was probably 2009 or 2010, and possibly even 2011. Nel says no, that’s not good enough. You gave evidence and when you gave evidence, you knew when it was.
Oscar thinks about the time when he moved in to the house. He had a year warranty. So it makes sense to him that it if was within a year, he would have gotten the builder to redo the work on the house. He can’t remember what dates it was, it could have been 2009 or 2010.
Nel asks Oscar if after those painters were there, did he check up on whether or not they removed sensors from the house. He says he didn’t. Nel then makes an obvious point… since you are security conscious, you would have followed up on whether or not they took those sensors off.
Nel points out that Oscar changed his evidence from what he gave in his chief. Nel reads from the previous record. Oscar stated “they do not work with wiring so when they painted the house in 2010, they had taken all the eyes off the outside of the house and they painted the home.” This is not what he is saying in testimony today. Nel wants to know why.
Oscar is trying to pawn this off as confusion. He is trying to claim that his evidence today was speaking about what the contractors did in 2013, not what they did in 2010. But if you listen closely, that is not true. Nel was clearly talking about the previous incident from 2010.
Nel tells him that he is tailoring his evidence.
Nel wants to know why in February 2013, Oscar did not check with his contractors if the sensors were removed or not. It’s a very valid question. Oscar’s entire case is about his intense sense of fear and insecurity. Logically, it does not make sense that he would be so lax about his security alarm.
Oscar tries to explain that he came home late in the day, the building contractor was the one who was in charge of that. Nel tells him that is the problem with tailoring your evidence, you have to keep explaining. Nel points out that he’s now in trouble and so he is just giving an explanation that is nonsensical.
Nel states to Oscar, “you gave no evidence about anybody working on your alarm in February 2013” in his chief testimony. Nel wants to know why. Oscar says he’s not sure and Nel says you can’t not be sure. Oscar once again tries to slip in that he doesn’t know why Roux wouldn’t ask him about this. Nel says we can now add that one to the Roux list of mistakes. Oscar is getting annoyed again and says “I have full trust in Mr. Roux.”
So Nel wants to reestablish what they have just learned.
In 2010, the painters took off all the sensors on the wall. Oscar agrees. Nel asks, being security conscious, did you check your alarm after that in 2010? Oscar says yes, his alarm was working after somebody came out to check that it was working.
Nel then asks, in 2013, if he was aware of any malfunction of his alarm. Oscar says he was not aware of any malfunction of his alarm. Sometimes the battery in the remote would go flat and he’d have to use the keypad. Sometimes the alarm went off in the middle of the evening as well, but he wasn’t aware of any malfunction.
Nel then says in working with your version, we have to work in somewhere the deactivation of the alarm on the night in question. Because remember, Oscar just testified that he turned the alarm on that night. Nel asks him when he deactivated the alarm. Oscar says he deactivated the alarm just before he opened his bedroom door to go open the front door. Nel wants to know why he didn’t mention this in his chief.
Nel takes him through it… after he called Stander and then Netcare, before he left his bedroom to open the front door, does he specifically remember deactivating the alarm? Oscar now says he doesn’t remember.
Oh brother, not again. He says he grabbed his keys which were on top of his speaker to deactivate the alarm. This is a habit that he does every night when he arms the alarm and every morning when he disarms it. The only reason he can say that he deactivated the alarm is because the alarm never went off.
Oscar admits that he made a mistake, he should have said “must have” deactivated the alarm not stated it as fact since he doesn’t have a recollection of it.
Nel wants to know why he would make a mistake like that. Nel points out to Oscar, this is a dangerous mistake for him. He can’t keep answering questions as fact and then turn around and say he doesn’t remember, make assumptions and then say he made a mistake in how he worded it. That will not go over well with the court.
Oscar then says “I’m tired, my Lady.” Nel tells him that his answer now puts him in a predicament. Nel wants to know if he’s too tired to continue because he doesn’t want another response today that he’s tired. He wants Oscar to tell the court if he’s too tired to proceed and if he needs time, they can discuss it with his legal team.
Oscar starts crying and says “my Lady, it’s not that I want time, it’s just that I’m tired and I’m gonna be tired. I don’t need time. I am tired and that’s not going to change.”
Nel says that he’s not convinced about his answer now. He thinks that he’s trying to cover up for lies.
The Judge stops him and says:
Judge: “Before you proceed… Mr. Pistorius, it’s important that you should be all here when you are in that witness box, do you understand that?”
Oscar: “I do”
Judge: “So if you are tired, and the reason you are making all these mistakes is because you are tired, you must say so. It doesn’t help to say it’s not going to change.”
Oscar: “I understand, I am tired my lady but I made a mistake with the way I answered the question, I said I did when I meant I must have, I don’t have an independent recollection. Mr. Nel’s right, I’m not arguing the point with him.”
Judge: “But that is not the question. The question is, are you too tired to proceed?”
Oscar: “No, my Lady.”
Judge: “Because you can be at a disadvantage when you’re in that box.”
Oscar: “I understand.”
Judge: “Do you understand that?”
Oscar: “Yes, my Lady.”
Judge: “It can’t be fair to you, and it’s not fair to this court either.”
Oscar: “I understand, my Lady”.
Judge: “Are you making these mistakes because you are too tired?”
Oscar: “I made the mistake not because I’m tired, I made the mistake because I don’t, because Mr. Nel put to me he asked me did I switch the alarm off before I left my room.” (his sentence didn’t make sense)
Judge: “But then can we accept that you haven’t made these mistakes because you’re tired. Can we accept that?”
Oscar: “I can accept that, my Lady.”
Judge: “No, can WE accept that?”
Oscar: “Yes, my Lady.”
Judge: “Thank you”
It was very important for the Judge to stop and do this. She needed to be clear on the record that Oscar is ok and not too tired to proceed. That could be grounds for appeal and she will not allow Oscar’s so called “mistakes” cause an appeal. She did not seem too pleased during this exchange.
Nel continues and asks Oscar why he’s making these mistakes. If it’s not because he’s tired then what is it. Oscar tries to explain again that switching the alarm off is a habit, he doesn’t have an independent recollection of switching off the alarm.
Nel tells him again the only reason that he’s changing his story is to tailor evidence. Oscar says that it’s fact that if he left his room and the alarm was active, it would have gone off so it’s not tailoring evidence, it’s the facts.
Nel then says to him he must have been concerned that intruders got in to his house without the alarm going off. Oscar says, “my Lady, I didn’t have time to think about the alarm going off. He didn’t think about the alarm, he just knew there was somebody in the house.”
This makes absolutely no sense to me. The whole point of having an alarm is to “alarm” you when somebody comes in. If it didn’t go off, how can he “know” somebody is in his house? It makes no sense whatsoever and he knows that. It’s not that he “didn’t have time”, like he wants to use for every dilemma that faces him, it’s that his story is untrue. Of course anybody who is security conscious who has an alarm would factor in that their alarm didn’t go off if they heard a noise. They would at least investigate it considering that fact.
Nel establishes that it’s an integrated alarm system, meaning that if one of the beams wasn’t working, it would indicate on the alarm system. Oscar agrees. And Nel wants to know if there was any such indication that night when he switched it on. Oscar says, no there wasn’t but adds in that a beacon can be taken off the wall and it doesn’t mean the system is faulty.
Oscar mentions that his windows and doors are open zones, meaning somebody coming in at those points would not trip an alarm.
Regardless of that, Nel is able to establish that if the alarm was functioning, nobody would be able to access the house without the alarm going off first before they got there. Oscar thinks this is correct.
Nel goes back to the ladders and points out that Oscar was concerned enough about the ladders to have a conversation with the contractors about putting them in the garage. So in light of that, why didn’t he have a conversation with the builder about the alarm system? Oscar doesn’t recall talking to the contractor about the alarm. The contractor had several things to do and the alarm was functioning, if he needed to take the sensors off to paint, he assumed he would do that and put them back.
But this is where he gets himself in trouble. Several times in his testimony he has implied that maybe the sensors were taken off by the contractors and then he says with certainty “the alarm was functioning.” Why imply one minute that it may not be working and then say it was the next. It looks so terrible when he does that.
Nel asks Oscar if the inside alarm was activated and he walked out of his bedroom door, would the alarm go off? Oscar says no, the first beacon is at the top of the stairs. So the upstairs bedrooms and lounge area are accessible while the alarm is on and movement would not trigger it. Movement would only be trigged past the alarm pad that is right by the top of the stairs.
It makes me ponder, if Oscar sincerely wanted to get help for Reeva, why bother taking the time to turn the alarm off. If he tripped the alarm, police would have arrived. Wouldn’t he want that? Maybe he didn’t.
Nel asks him if lying awake in his bed watching TV, did the open balcony door bother him. Oscar says no, he was awake and it didn’t bother him.
Nel moves on to the incident on the highway. Oscar states he was coming back late one evening from an interview. A black Merecedes came up behind him. He moved over, the car passed him, slowed down and then he saw a muzzle flash from the back of the vehicle. He slammed on his brakes, he was in the fast lane, he moved over to the right and he took the exit, went under the highway and parked in a place where there was a lot of people.
Oscar is not sure if this was a week night. It was about 10:30-11pm. Oscar says he doesn’t remember any other cars on the highway. Nel asks him if he and the black Mercedes were in a road rage incident or altercation beforehand. Oscar says no.
Nel then reminds him that is a very busy highway, Oscar says yes it’s the busiest stretch of highway in that area. So Nel says in all probability, there would have been other cars on that road and Oscar says possibly. Nel says possibly doesn’t really seem right, in all probability there were other cars on the road. Oscar then says “there were definitely other vehicles on that stretch of road, my Lady.”
Nel wants to know if he specifically saw a muzzle flash. Is he sure it wasn’t a camera? Oscar says no, he heard a banging noise and saw a reddish/white explosion.
Nel starts to tell him that he didn’t say that in his chief, and Oscar corrects him and says yes I did. Nel looks at the record and agrees he’s correct. He points out to him that he’s not too tired to keep up with Nel’s mistakes, and just wants to get that on the record.
Nel asks Oscar if he had a phone with him and he says yes he did. He didn’t immediately phone someone, his first thought was to get away. As far away as he could. He explains how he was frantically trying to get off of the freeway and didn’t have time to make a phone call. When he got to Rhapsody, he made a phone call.
Nel asks when this was. Oscar says 2008 or 2009. He waited in the parking lot of Rhapsody, he did not go in, and called somebody from his car. He can’t remember who he called. Nel tells him no, you cannot tell the court that during this traumatic incident you don’t remember who came and picked you up.
Oscar says this was 4 or 5 years ago, he doesn’t remember who he phoned. Nel tells him that is very improbable. I agree. Nel points out the only reason he wouldn’t want anybody to know who picked him up that night is because they would try to confirm the incident, and the incident never happened.
The one night that somebody almost shot him, the only night that somebody almost shot him, where he remembers the exact exit that he got off, where he went and where he parked, but he can’t remember who he called. It does not ring true at all.
Oscar says he left his car in the parking lot that night. He can’t remember how he got it the next morning. Somebody must have picked him up or dropped him off.
Nel says to him, can we agree that if somebody shoots at you on the highway, that is a very serious incident. One could die. Oscar agrees, that’s correct. Yet, he didn’t report it to the police. Oscar says he doesn’t see what the police could have done about it. Nel asks, why? Police investigate cases. They can find things out. Did you not trust them? And Oscar says yes, I didn’t trust in them to find out what happened or that they would give it attention.
Nel says that’s not the first time he’s heard about Oscar’s family not trusting the police.
Henke Pistorius (Oscar’s father) made public comments about the ANC not wanting to protect white citizens. The Pistorius family is known to have a large arsenal of guns. Oscar has stated numerous times in court that he had a gun for protection. His family says their guns are for sport.
Nel asks Oscar if he is aware of his father’s statements about the police and Oscar says no. Nel asks if anybody in his family has discussed this with him and he’s trying like heck to avoid it now. Acting like, nope he had no idea. This is so dishonest, it’s laughable. He lives with his uncle. He sees his sister and brother all the time, probably almost daily. Of course they have talked about it! He must really be hoping this Judge is a complete idiot.
Nel tells him he is going to rephrase the question and to please think, “you have no idea what your father said in the media about ownership of guns in South Africa?” Oscar says he has “no idea.”
Oscar says he grew up in a family that did call the police when necessary and not once did they sort things out or catch the criminals.
Nel wants to know if that’s why he also did not report his burglary, because he didn’t trust the police. Oscar says yes that is possibly true. Although, he goes on to say, that I did call the police out but there wasn’t a docket that was open. Oscar is talking and trying to explain that he didn’t say he didn’t trust the police, but rather he didn’t trust that they could do anything about it. He is using semantics.
Nel moves on to the 2012 incident where he was assaulted. Nel wants to know what gave rise to that particular incident.
Oscar agrees that he approached Mr. Quinton van der Burgh when they were at a public race track. He denies having an argument with him. Mr. van der Burgh took Samantha Taylor overseas while he was at the Olympics under the pretense that it was a work function. He is in his 30s and she was 19 at the time. It later came out when they were reconciling their relationship after London, that Mr. van der Burgh was manipulative and disgusting, per Samantha, and he says he has emails to support that.
Oscar didn’t expect to see Mr. van der Burgh at that race track. When he saw him he immediately went to a different area. Oscar says Mr. van der Burgh stared at him the whole morning and made eye contact with him. Oscar claims that he said to his friends there that he felt like leaving. He didn’t feel like any confrontation with him.
As he was leaving, Mr. van der Burgh turned around and looked at him so Oscar approached him. Oscar said to him you obviously know who I am. I just want you to know that I have very little respect for what you did. He says he didn’t threaten him in any manner, he told him exactly what he thought about him and didn’t swear at him. There were many people around and Mr. van der Burgh didn’t have any reply back to him. Oscar turned around and left after that.
Justin Devaris was there, along with Mr. Balwell, Kevin Lerena, and Darren Fresco. Nel asks, if anybody says that Oscar approached him and he (Oscar) was aggressive, would they be lying? Oscar says yes. Oscar only agrees that he approached him and was unhappy with what he had done. He does not believe he acted aggressively.
Oscar then states that Mr. van der Burgh sent his management a legal letter two weeks later asking for Oscar’s address. He says it was obvious that he was trying to “pick a fight.” Oscar feels this was an intimidation letter. He sought legal advice and was told not to waste his time in replying. He basically surmised that the letter was not really a legal letter.
When he got home that day from the race track, he had a function to attend and Samantha Taylor was waiting for him at his house. She had been there throughout the day. She was planning to go with Oscar to Sun City. When he got home she was extremely upset that he had confronted Mr. van der Burgh. They had an argument and he asked her why she was defending him. She told Oscar that somebody phoned her and informed her that Oscar had told him off. He asked Samantha after everything she told him about this man, why she was defending him. She said she wasn’t defending him.
He told her he didn’t have time to argue with her about this. It was very hard for him to forgive her for what had happened. He gave her the keys to his Jeep, told her to just take her bag and leave. He had a business function to attend, the relationship wasn’t working, he could not deal with the drama of this man and her. He put her bag in his car and gave her the key. He said he’d organize to have somebody pick up the vehicle at a later stage.
She pleaded with him and said she was sorry. They got in the car together and drove to Sun City. When they got to Sun City, he was met in the foyer by Mark Batchelor. He approached Oscar and Samantha. Oscar says he must have known he was there for a function or found out from somebody else. It all came together later on that Mr. Batchelor was the person involved in this intimidation that lead them to go to the Hawks.
Nel tells him that this is the problem with leading good character evidence of yourself… he has left himself wide open to now be questioned on the whole of his character.
Nel wants to confirm, so you never shouted at Samantha when you got home? Oscar says they got in to an argument but he did not shout at her. He was very civil with her. He packed her bag in his car and offered for her to take his vehicle.
Nel concludes that this is the incident, at the race track, that gave rise to the incident where he got assaulted at the party. Oscar says, that’s correct.
Nel reminds Oscar that he was the one who approached the person with the cell phone at the party. Oscar agrees. Nobody approached him, he approached the person.
Oscar spoke to Mark Batchelor on the cell phone that night at the party. And Nel says that Oscar told Mark Batchelor he would “break his legs.” Oscar says that is not correct, he did not say that. Oscar is aware that Mark Batchelor has stated this and he is lying.
Oscar goes on to say that he would not be so careless to threaten Mark because he is revered to be a person who has had many assault charges. Also, Oscar says he would never threaten a person. The only reason he was on that phone was to diffuse a situation. After ten minutes of trying to reason with him, he came to the conclusion that he could not.
Mark supposedly told Oscar that Mr. van der Burgh was a good friend of his and he very explicitly told Oscar to “wind his neck in.” Oscar says they discussed this situation with the Hawks and the situation was diffused after that.
The fact of the matter is that Oscar never reported this to the police, instead Justin Devaris arranged this meeting with a very senior person at the Hawks. The people in attendance were Oscar, Justin, Mark Batchelor and Mark’s lawyer. That lawyer was representing both Mark and Quinton van der Burgh. After this meeting there were no court cases.
Oscar says that this meeting with the Hawks happened the next day after the assault at the party. Nel wants to establish again that Oscar doesn’t know who assaulted him at the party and Oscar says he does not know who assaulted him.
Come on Oscar, give us all a break. Of course you know who assaulted you.
Oscar says that it has come back to him on many occasions that Mr. van der Burgh paid Mark Batchelor a sum of money to go after Oscar. He says that Mark confessed this to Justin Devaris and that he got caught up with these people that he thought were his friends.
Nel asks Oscar, “for a man like you at that get together, would it not have been easier for you to just leave?”
Oscar incredibly points out to the court that he had his firearm with him at that time and he didn’t use it (as if he’s supposed to get brownie points for that) and he did leave. He went straight from there to Morningside Clinic where he got stitches in his head.
Nel asks him again, “Mr. Pistorius, before talking to people on the phone, before taking people on, would it not have been better for you to leave? Why did you get involved in an altercation?”
Oscar says he heard the conversation outside and Oscar thought it best to talk directly to Mark Batchelor. He says he thought maybe he would be a person that he could reason with.
Nel points out to him that he goes looking for trouble. Oscar disagrees.
Oscar says Mr. Lerena and Mr. Fresco have given evidence about this. Nel points out that they couldn’t lead with this evidence because its character evidence but now that the door is open, would Oscar be happy to get their version of events and Oscar says more than happy.
Nel points out to him that Mr. Devaris could give evidence too, and Oscar says that he’s not sure if they are going to be calling him.
Very interesting. It doesn’t seem like the Defense wants Justin Devaris to testify. He knows an awful lot about Oscar. He also spoke to Oscar right after the shooting, at 3:55am that morning, and came to his house while the police were there. They are trying to avoid Justin like the plague, I’m guessing because Oscar likely has said things to Justin that are not good for his defense.
Nel says, “that’s good, we can look in to that.”
Nel wants to go back to the scene in the early morning hours of February 14, and they pull out the photo album.
He asks Oscar, after he brought the two fans inside, what happened after that? Oscar says he closed the doors and closed the curtains. He then went to the amplifier to cover the light with the pair of jeans, and that is when he heard the noise coming from the bathroom.
Nel asks him why he wanted to cover the light. Oscar said it was distracting. Nel says so it was sharp enough light to bother him in his sleep. Oscar says it must have been. Nel said it must have illuminated an area if you could see it. Oscar says no it didn’t. Nel asks him again if it could illuminate anything and then Oscar jumps in and says it allowed him to see the silhouette of the jeans. Ah, now it does illuminate. Oscar says the jeans were about a meter away from the amp. Oscar says they were Reeva’s jeans.
Nel asked him if that LED light had ever bothered him before. He said yes, he had covered it with other things before. Nel asks him if it was the blue light that woke him up. Oscar says he doesn’t know why he woke up, he thinks because it was hot. Nel wants to know when the blue light started to bother him. Oscar says when he closed the curtains, he turned back towards the fans and saw that the blue light was on.
Nel then asks Oscar, did you cover it? Oscar says I don’t remember. It was at that point in the night, when he was about to cover the light, that he heard the noise so he doesn’t remember.
Nel establishes that Oscar wanted to cover it and he wanted to use the jeans. He had already picked up the jeans and was in the process of placing them on the amp when the noise occurred.
Oscar points out on the photo where the blue LED light is (see the white circle on the silver equipment)
They then look at the photo of the bedroom from yesterday and reestablish that the fan was actually where the duvet is now in the photo (according to Oscar.) The small fan was to the right of the big fan. So Nel says the denim must have been behind the small fan. Oscar says they were more or less where they are seen in the photo, about a meter away from the amp.
Oscar then heard the window sliding open. Oscar never heard Reeva get up, nor did he hear the bed creak. The fans were on and Oscar was very close to the fans. But he was still able to hear the window slide open. Oscar says this noise would be louder than somebody getting out of bed. Oscar also points out that he heard the window hit the wood frame as it opened all the way.
Nel asks him is there any mistake that this is exactly what you heard? Oscar says, no, that is what he heard.
Nel asks him if from the day of the incident up until now, is this what he heard? He agrees, that’s correct.
I see where Nel is going. I think there’s a good chance that Oscar told somebody a different story about the noise. Nel has now alluded to this a few times.
Oscar was frozen for a moment, a few seconds. He then rushed to get his firearm underneath next to the pedestal (the bed).
As he turned around to face the passage, he told Reeva to get down and to phone the police. He whispered it to her, he said it in a soft tone. Nel asks if he looked at her when he said that. Oscar says no, he had his eyes on the passage the whole time.
Nel asks him if he ever discussed the noise with Reeva. Did he ever say, “Reeva did you hear that?” Oscar says he did not. Nel wants to know why not, she’s awake. Oscar says he was not confused about what he heard. He didn’t need confirmation from her.
Nel tells him that would have been the reasonable thing to do. He reminds Oscar that in the past, when he woke up and heard a noise in the bathroom he discussed that with Samantha Taylor. Oscar says on one occasion when that happened, he heard a noise downstairs. He did lean over and ask her if she heard the noise. Oscar says his dog had come in the house and he was running around and knocking over the dining room chairs downstairs. So on that occasion he did lean over and ask her because he was unsure about what he had heard. On the morning of the 14th, he was sure of what he had heard. He didn’t want to converse more than he had to.
Nel points out, you never waited for a response. You never checked on her to make sure she was ok. Oscar says he did not. Nel then says you never told her what to do. Oscar says yes I did, I told her to get down and call the police. Nel says you whispered to her and Oscar says that he didn’t whisper to her, he said it in a soft tone.
He is fumbling a bit again because he did say he whispered. Oscar says he did not hear a response and he did not wait for a response. Nel asks him if that bothered him. Oscar says his whole being was fixated on the noise in the bathroom. When he told her to get down and call the police, he was already facing away from the bed and was making his way to the passage.
Nel then says to him you are absolutely sure the duvet was not on the floor and he says yes. Then Nel asks, but the denim was? Oscar says the denim was about in that vicinity in that area.
Nel says to him, if that photograph depicts the way that room was that morning, your version cannot be true. Oscar says, that’s correct.
Nel then says, “so for that to happen, the police must have moved the fan and put the duvet on the floor?” Oscar is getting annoyed again and says they have discussed this in great lengths and yes, that is true. Nel then points out he has another problem. The denim is lying on top of the duvet.
Oscar doesn’t see that as a problem. If everything in the room was moved then he doesn’t see why the denim couldn’t have been moved too.
Nel asks him again, why would they do that? Oscar says he cannot answer that question.
Roux objects that photo perception can be deceiving. He’s not convinced that the jeans are on top of the duvet. Nel says to the Judge that Roux can deal with this in reexamination. Roux says he wants a proper photograph to ensure that it is actually on the jeans.
As they are arguing this point, the Judge admonished Nel and reminds him not to call the witness a liar while he is in the witness box. It appears that he is able to say that the witness is not telling the truth, but he cannot directly call him a liar.
They take a break to obtain the proper photographs.
Upon return, Nel has two other photographs to show the court. The first is a close up of the jeans from above.
Nel points out to the court the white tag that is on the top left of the jeans. He wants the court to be aware of this tag while they are looking at the next photo. He also points out that the portion of the duvet that is under the jeans is a corner.
They then look at the next photo from a different angle. The white circle is showing the white tag from the jeans that he pointed out before. He does not want that tag to be mistaken as duvet fabric.
And the next photo shows the corner piece of the duvet that is under the jeans, at the area that is circled in white.
Nel argues that it is clear from these photographs that the denim is on top of the duvet. Roux says he doesn’t see it that way. Roux wants Nel to state in his question to Oscar that it is his interpretation of the photo, not that it’s fact. The Judge states that from the photographs it does look as if the denim is on top. He can go as far as that.
Nel proceeds. Oscar agrees that it does look like the denim is on the duvet. Oscar does not think this is a difficulty. He would like to believe Col. Van Rensburg’s evidence from that day. If he saw it that way then it must have been moved after he saw it. So it doesn’t create a difficulty.
Nel tells him the question actually was that the court says it looks like the jeans are on top of the duvet. If that is so, it would create a difficulty for his version. After a bit of a go around, Oscar agrees it would create a difficulty.
They next look at the right side of the bed again. The white circle on the photo depicts Oscar’s iPad.
Oscar confirms this is the iPad that he used that night. The cover that is seen just next to the fan is the cover for this iPad.
Nel points out that if Oscar pulled the fan to the position where he said he did, the multi-plug would have moved in that direction. Oscar is not sure; he doesn’t know the lengths of the cords.
Nel points out the grey item on the floor. Oscar says that’s my vest (t-shirt). The white circle depicts the shirt on the floor.
Oscar says this is the shirt that was on top of his prosthetic legs. He said when he put his legs on, he threw the shirt. He presumes this is more or less where it landed. Nel points out that it landed on top of the cables.
Nel asks him why he put his t-shirt on his legs. Oscar says out of habit. He does it at the track as well.
The white circle on the next photo depicts where his prosthetic legs were placed that night after he took them off, before going to bed.
Nel goes back to the photo of the fans and the balcony. He wants to know if the fans bothered him when he ran to the balcony. Oscar says he doesn’t remember if they were in his way, he imagines they would have been. He just remembers running and opening the door, he doesn’t remember the fans at that point.
Nel says if you indicated the position of the fans correctly, those would have been in your way in getting to the balcony. Oscar says possibly. He doesn’t remember that part of the evening. Nel asks him if he knocked over the fans or fell, anything like that. Oscar doesn’t remember anything about the fans at that point in the night.
Nel says they would have also been in the way when you walked to where your prosthetics were from the balcony. Oscar says I’m pretty sure they would been in the way. He doesn’t recall kicking them or anything like that. Oscar points out that in order to put on his prosthetics, he has to extend his legs in front of him. The fan as it’s depicted in the photo now, would have been in the way when he was putting on his legs.
Oscar does agree though that the cables would have been in his way, since he claims the fans were stretched to where the duvet is now. Oscar doesn’t have any memory of kicking the cable or pushing it. Nel says he can’t remember it because it didn’t happen.
Oscar starts to get upset and cry again. Nel asks him why he’s crying now. Oscar says it’s a difficult time for him to remember. Nel says but why would this question make you emotional? Oscar says, as he cries, “because this is the night I lost the person I cared about, I don’t know how people don’t understand that.”
Nel says he is giving the witness a moment because he is clearly in distress. The Judge agrees and they adjourn for a break.
When they return the Judge asks Oscar if he is ok to proceed and he says yes.
Nel establishes with Oscar that his memory was good up until he fired the shots. After that his memory is not very good.
Nel asks, when you got your gun did you have to bend down to get it? Oscar says he was on his stumps. He was using his arms and legs to get there and was already in a low position when he got there to pick up his gun. He was looking back at the passage. After he got the gun, he turned around and told Reeva to get down and call the police and he made his way to the entrance of the passage as quickly as possible. His attention was towards the passage.
Nel asks what his intention was. Oscar says his intention was to put himself in between the people in the bathroom and Reeva.
Nel points out to him that if he cared about Reeva, he would have made sure that she heard him and that she was there and he didn’t. Oscar says he was sure she was there because he had spoken to her shortly before.
Nel says to him, so that’s why you changed your story from the bail affidavit. In his bail statement she was not awake. In his plea statement, she was awake. Nel wants to know why he didn’t include that detail in his bail affidavit. Oscar says he’s not sure, he can’t explain.
Nel says for your plea statement for court, you wanted the court to understand that you knew she was in the bed. That’s why he invented that conversation. Oscar says he didn’t invent the conversation.
Nel reminds Oscar that when the witnesses, the Stipps and Burger and Johnson, described their experiences about hearing noises, they all said to each other upon waking “did you hear that?”, “what was that?” That is what reasonable people do.
Nel says you were right next to her during a time of danger, but you did not talk to her. Oscar says he was not right next to her when he heard the noise, he was next to the amplifier. Nel says, but what about when you got the gun. You were right next to her then. Oscar says yes he was next to her but he was overcome with fear and wondering if somebody was coming down the passage. He didn’t have time to think about anything else.
Nel tells him a reasonable person would have looked where Reeva was to make sure she was safe, but he didn’t.
Nel confirms with Oscar that he never established if she was scared, if she heard him, or if she heard the danger.
Oscar says he knew he didn’t have any way of defending himself without his prosthetic legs on so he ran for his firearm. Nel says that’s not true. Reeva was awake. The two of them could have taken lots of other steps. Oscar says “there was no time.”
Nel points out that they were in the bedroom, with a passageway distancing them from the bathroom. They could have done lots of other things. He had already armed himself so he could have gone out on the balcony to hide, or hid next to the bed.
Nel is trying to make the point that he already had his gun, he is armed if he needs it. Why run to the danger? Why not just hide from the danger with your gun and stay out of sight. Oscar says that he wanted the harm to stay away from Reeva, so he wanted to put himself in between the harm and her.
They continue on… Oscar enters the passage. Nel asks him if he was ready to shoot. Oscar says he was never ready to shoot (which is actually untrue because he took both the holster and the safety off of the gun.) Nel says to him, why would you arm yourself and go toward the danger if you’re not ready to shoot? Nel tells him it’s not true.
Oscar again says “I didn’t have time to think.”
Nel asks him why he released the safety mechanism. Oscar says so that if he needed to protect himself he could. Oscar points out, he did not storm the bathroom. He walked extremely slowly and cautiously until he got to the bathroom entrance.
Nel asks him, what would he have done if he saw someone walking down the passage, would you then have fired a shot? Oscar says he doesn’t know. His intention was to protect Reeva. Oscar says, as he said before, he didn’t want to harm anybody, he screamed for the intruders to get out of his home.
But think about that realistically, how are they going to do that? He is in the passage with a loaded gun with the safety off, did he expect them to say sorry sir, we’ll just climb back out the window? Come on. He wasn’t going in to that bathroom to have a chat with an intruder. It makes no sense.
Nel says to him again, you were walking down that passage with your gun, safety off, and you were ready to shoot. Oscar finally agrees.
Oscar says he started shouting and screaming as he entered the passageway. He screamed for the people to get out of the house. He screamed for Reeva to call the police.
My opinion is that these words were indeed shouted that night and Oscar needs to cover his butt in case the neighbors heard that too. I think that during their argument, Oscar screamed at Reeva to get out of his house and I think she screamed that she was calling the police. She grabbed her phone and ran in to the bathroom. He says her phone was in the toilet with her, but the police found it in the bathroom with its cover knocked off. I think perhaps he was able to knock the phone out of her hand (that’s why the cover was off of it) and she was able to get in to the toilet room and lock herself in. I think Oscar shot her at that point. This is my theory as of right now.
Nel points out to Oscar that although he is vulnerable, he chose to go toward the danger. Oscar says if he had stayed where he was then both he and Reeva would have been in danger. And Nel says no, nobody was in danger, there was no intruder.
Nel then asks Oscar, “if you remained in the room, you have a clear view of the passage?” Oscar says, that’s correct and immediately catches himself. Remember, he’s not supposed to see in that room. He back peddles and says if he stood in certain areas of that room he could see in the passage.
Nel wants to know why they didn’t just leave through the bedroom door. Oscar says he has very limited mobility on his stumps especially on surfaces like tile. Oscar says it’s easy to look back and see other options but at the time this is what he did. Nel tells him the bedroom door was the closest escape possible. Oscar says he doesn’t know why he didn’t do that.
Oscar asks the Judge to consider Samantha Taylor’s evidence, where she explained that Oscar in the past has gone to investigate noises. Oscar says that’s his personality. He doesn’t cower or run away. In that split moment he wanted to put himself between the perceived danger and Reeva.
The problem with this then is he can’t really claim to be vulnerable, in my opinion. If you are the kind of person who is bold enough to confront situations, you can’t call yourself vulnerable. They are somewhat of a contradiction.
Oscar admits that he wanted to confront the robbers. And Nel says you did that by firing, and Oscar says that’s correct. This is the look on Carl and Aimee’s face at that moment.
Nel says, you know your bathroom very well. You knew the only way in to your bedroom from that bathroom is down that passage. Oscar agrees. Nel goes on to say that the passage could be controlled from the bedroom. Oscar agrees and says that he didn’t do that.
Nel asks Oscar if his screams were loud. Oscar says they were very loud, both shouts and screams. Nel asks, shouting at Reeva? Oscar says no, I was shouting at the intruders to get out. He then says, at first I was shouting at Reeva to get down and phone the police and then he was shouting at the intruders.
And Nel asks again, she never responded? Oscar says no.
Now he is at the entrance to the bathroom and he kept quiet. He didn’t want to give away his position. He knelt down, he was holding the cupboards. He had his firearm in front of him. He was worried that the person was in there waiting to ambush him. He wanted to peer around the corner.
He just stated he was kneeling. I’m wondering, removing his story for now and considering that he shot Reeva intentionally, he could have had his prosthetics on and was kneeling at the time. That is why the shots are lower. Not because he was on his stumps, but because he was kneeling
Nel points out, this wasn’t split second. Now Oscar is thinking this through. At the end of the case, even if the Judge feels that there wasn’t evidence to support that he intentionally shot Reeva, this goes to the culpable homicide possibility. This shows that Oscar had time, and did indeed, think about what he was doing. Even with his own version, he can’t use the excuse that he didn’t have time to think before he fired his gun. I think that Nel has sufficiently proven at this stage of the case that Oscar did intentionally kill a person.
Nel states again, you are thinking and you’re kneeling down and you have your gun pointed in the bathroom. Oscar is getting a little frantic now and says “everything about that event was split decision.” Oscar says anything could have happened, somebody could have ran out and shot him or choked him. Nel says, you’re right! And that is why your version doesn’t make sense. If he really had run in there under those circumstances, he was leaving himself wide open to danger.
Oscar states that he heard the toilet door slam shut just before he entered the tiled portion of the bathroom. He thought that there was either somebody going in to the toilet room or that somebody kicked the door. He was hoping that maybe whoever had accessed his house was fleeing and perhaps kicked the door closed on their way out the window. He wasn’t sure if there was somebody in there or not.
When Oscar entered the bathroom he could see that the bathroom window was open. Nel then says, so there was enough light in there for you to see the window? Oscar says no, there were lights on outside – house lights, street lights. He says there was ambient light outside shining in. He clarifies that the bedroom had no light and the bathroom had limited light.
Oscar peered in the bathroom to make sure that nobody was in the bathroom. He had a very low position with his hand against the wall for balance. He peered around the corner to where the basins are and didn’t see anyone. He walked back a step or two. He could see that the toilet door was closed.
Nel wants to know if the toilet door is usually open or not. He says, “I guess it’s usually open.” Nel wants to know if he thought it was strange that it was closed. Oscar says no, he heard it slam closed.
Nel establishes that Oscar is aware of how small his toilet room is. Whoever was in there would have a very limited space to move. For them to get out they would either have to climb out the window via a ladder or come out the door.
Nel wants to know if Oscar reasonably thought that an intruder came through his window and went in to his toilet room and closed the door. Oscar says he doesn’t know what an intruder would do if they were caught off guard. Nel tells him that it is so improbable to think that an intruder would do that.
I agree. A dangerous intruder is likely not going to corner themselves in that tiny room. They either would have backed down out of the window or attacked whoever was coming at them.
Oscar then says he had to consider it as a possibility. Nel points out to him that he is “considering.” That is a conscious act. It goes toward intention.
Nel points out everything he had to consider from walking fast to walking slow, when to scream and when to be quiet. Oscar says he doesn’t know if it would be considering or if it would be instinct.
Nel asks Oscar then if he wasn’t going in to the bathroom to shoot someone, then what was he going to do. Oscar says he wanted to make them flee.
When Oscar got to the bathroom and peered in near the basin, there was nobody there. Oscar moved back a step so that just the bathroom door and the window was in line with the wall of the bathroom passageway (meaning, I believe, he couldn’t see the shower to the right, he could only see the bathroom door while peering in at this point now)
He had his gun in front of him, he again screamed for Reeva to phone the police. Then he shouted and he kept on shouting.
Nel states that this is the most improbable part of his story. Reeva was 3 meters away from him inside the toilet room. And she never uttered a word? Oscar says that’s correct. Nel tells him this is not possible.
I’ve seen this point hotly contested online and my own personal opinion is that I, without any question in my mind, agree with Nel on this. I am quite sure that Reeva would have been able to tell that Oscar was literally a few feet away from her in the bathroom. It’s not like he was yelling to her from downstairs. If he was screaming to her from a few feet away, and she was in a bathroom and not able to call the police, of course she would have communicated with him! It is beyond absurd to think otherwise.
But now I think I know why Oscar testified that she had her phone in the toilet room with her. Perhaps he can say that she had her phone in there and kept quiet so she could call the police. Just speculating here… I was wondering why he testified that. In evidence photos we saw the phone in the bathroom (not the toilet room) on the ground near the shower mat with the cover knocked off.
Oscar testified that he picked the phone up and tried to make a call but couldn’t because of the passcode. I don’t think that cell phone was ever inside the toilet room and I don’t think he tried to use it. Go back to my theory earlier in this post. I think she ran in to the bathroom with her phone and he knocked it out of her hand before she could use it.
Oscar agrees with Nel that she was probably terrified at that point, but doesn’t think she would have been able to scream out. He thinks she would have kept quiet. Nel points out what I just mentioned above… you are in the bathroom with her a few feet away, why would she keep quiet? Oscar says he doesn’t know.
The poor Steenkamp family is shaking their heads in the gallery at this point and have literally been through hell. Every day he sits on that stand and tells the most ridiculous stories and he hurts them even more.
Nel reminds him that they know that Reeva was standing facing the door. Oscar says that’s correct. Nel then says, if she was scared she would not have been there. She would have been hiding in there. She was standing in front of the door talking to you. Oscar says that’s not true.
Nel tells him that she wasn’t scared of anything, except you. “She wasn’t scared of an intruder, she was scared of you.” Oscar says this is not true.
Nel points out that if bullet hole A hit her in the hip, then she’s standing facing you. Oscar says he doesn’t dispute that. Nel says, if your version is true, if she was scared of an intruder, she would not be facing you. Oscar says nobody can know that.
Oscar thinks that in her mind she was probably thinking that he was retreating to the bathroom. Oscar says that Reeva had been involved in a similar incident before and had locked herself away for a day or so. This refers to when she and her mom were broken in to in their home years ago.
Nel then asks if she screamed at all while he shot her four times. Oscar says no.
Nel asks “are you sure?” Oscar is silent and he has to ask him again. Oscar is crying now, he says that at no time did Reeva shout out or scream. He wishes she had let him know she was there. She did not do that.
Nel then asks, “after you fired the first shot, did she scream?” Oscar says no. Nel says, are you sure? Would you have heard her? Oscar says he doesn’t think he would have heard her. His ears were ringing from the gunshot.
Nel says that is why he’s asking him the question. How can he exclude the fact that she was screaming if he couldn’t hear? Oscar says, “if I couldn’t hear it, I couldn’t hear it.” Nel reminds him that he just said she didn’t scream. Again here we are where he gave a definitive answer at first and then wants to back-peddle to a more vague answer.
Oscar said that when he finished firing the gunshots, he was screaming but couldn’t hear his own voice.
Nel says, people heard a woman scream during the gunshots. Is that possible? Oscar says no that’s not possible. Nel asks him why. Oscar says because a woman didn’t scream at any point. Nel tells him that he can’t say that because he just told the court that he couldn’t hear.
Oscar then says I’m not talking about the shooting, I’m talking about the entire evening. Nel tells Oscar that he can’t get away with that every time. Sometimes you have to take responsibility. He is not talking about the entire night, they were just specifically talking about during the gunshots. He tells Oscar that there is no way he is confused and not following along.
Nel tells Oscar that in his bail affidavit he explicitly said there was never a woman screaming that night, the screams heard were his.
Roux stands up and reminds the court that the State and the Defense have differing theories on what time the shots were, and that affects when the screams were. The Judge wants Nel to read from the bail affidavit if he is going to make a point. Nel did not have it right in front of him and tables that argument for later.
Nel says to Oscar that he’s heard his evidence about how he felt that night, but wants to know if Oscar agrees with him that for Reeva who was stuck in that small space when four shots were fired through the door, it must have been horrific. Oscar agrees. Nel points out that he’s never heard Oscar talk about how she must have reacted that night. Oscar says he’s thought about it many times and believes he’s addressed this in the answering of his questions.
Nel now returns to the incident at the point after the shouting but before the shots. He wants Oscar to continue on with his story.
Oscar says he was standing in the bathroom with his gun pointed at the door. His eyes were going back and forth from the window to the door. He heard a noise from inside the toilet. Nel asks what noise. Oscar said it sounded like wood moving. He thought he heard the door opening. Nel points out that this is the first time ever that Oscar has mentioned he heard the door open. He says to Oscar, you perceived a lot of things but it’s not in the record that you heard the door open. Why now?
Oscar says he thought he heard it, not that he heard it, that’s perception.
Oscar says that door doesn’t open properly and when you open it there is a knocking noise. That’s what he thought he heard.
Oscar agrees that the gun was pointed towards the door. Oscar then heard the noise in the bathroom which he perceived as somebody coming out to attack him.
Nel points out that a noise in the bathroom is not the same thing as somebody coming out of the bathroom. Nel asks, you never perceived that somebody was coming out, did you? Oscar says that’s not true.
Nel says to him “you knew Reeva was behind the door and you shot at her. That is the only thing that makes sense. You shot at her knowing she was behind that door.”
Oscar says that’s not true.
Nel requests that they adjourn until Monday morning and the Judge grants his request.