Originally posted on Juror # 13:
Next on the witness stand is Sean Rens. He is the Manager of the International Firearm Training Academy. He met Oscar in May 2012, through their mutual friend, Justin Devaris. Oscar had a great “love and enthusiasm” for guns, per Rens, and was looking to acquire more guns which he would be able to assist him with.
There was a particular gun that Oscar wanted, a Smith & Wesson 500 revolver. In addition there were five other guns he had ordered from Mr. Rens: .38 caliber Smith & Wesson, civilian version of a Vector .223 caliber assault rifle and three shotguns – a Mossberg, a Maverick, and a Winchester.
Here is a copy of the invoice that was created for these weapons in June of 2012.
Oscar needed a special collector’s license to own this many weapons and applied for licenses to own these guns on January 22, 2013…
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The recent fur ore surrounding the Channel Seven video purported to have been made by the Oscar Pistorius Defence team, has died down very quickly. What is the reason for this? The febrile nature of this case usually ensures that the merest detail is picked apart for weeks. On the latest OP video release, this isn’t the case.
Apparently, Oscar’s uncle Arnold originally invited the production company to make the video in an attempt to show how unlikely it was that OP could have murdered Reeva Steenkamp. How the Defense team got involved is unclear but either way, the material was of such little value, it didn’t appear in the trial as evidence. Why did it not form part of the Defense case?
The video itself is clearly biased towards OP otherwise why would Arnold Pistorius have supported its making. The Principal protagonist is, Scott Roder with the grandiose title of, ‘Crime Scene Specialist’. In fact, Scott Roder is the Chief Executive of a company set up to recreate crime scenes, presumably to aid both Defense and Prosecution teams to establish ‘facts’ particularly in circumstantial cases.
Scott Roder’s company, The Evidence Room, were clearly hired by Oscar Pistorius family so were only ever going to focus on OP’s version of events. The vast majority of the programme was spent on sympathising with the Defense case with Roder having carried out his own tests. Roder highlights the ‘gunshots & Cricket bat test’ he did saying with full conviction (paid conviction) that the gunshots and the cricket bat sounds were identical and that ear witnesses were confused with what they heard. On the video, there was an obvious difference between the gunshots and the cricket bat sounds despite Roder’s best attempts to convince the audience they were the same.
On the subject of Oscar Pistorius and his disability, Scott Roder said, OP ‘was at a tremendous disadvantage’ because he was on his stumps at the time, then he goes on to show OP moving forwards and backwards with his arm outstretched mimicking carrying his weapon, with apparent ease. This is interesting as the Defense case is; he was vulnerable because he has limited mobility without his prosthetic legs on. I have written before about this and questioned this. Lifelong double amputees have remarkable abilities on their stumps and have useful functionality without prosthetics. Many OP supporters believe he couldn’t achieve what the Prosecution say he did because of limited mobility. The Channel Seven video has certainly put paid to that argument. Oscar Pistorius has useful functionally on his stumps and could have easily managed to get Reeva and himself out of the bedroom if he thought there really were intruders in the house.
The Evidence Room reenacted OP shouting from the balcony and shouting at the ‘intruder’. Roder says, ‘when you are screaming at an intruder, you are going to use the deepest, most angry most threatening voice you can’ – The programme actually used OPs voice to try to show he sounded like a girl. It didn’t sound very much like a female voice. In fact, OP’s reenactment sounded very much like a guy.
The stated position of the programme makers was that it supported Oscars version of events and it provided evidence to show this. It seems that on the substantive issues of the case, the video only confused OPs position further. Far from showing his version to be plausible, it probably supported the Prosecution case more, which is not what the Pistorius family wanted, from the exercise.
Are these the reasons why the Channel Seven video submerged below the waves very quickly?
Very interesting piece which has merit.
Originally posted on Juror # 13:
There are only two questions at the core of this trial. Did Oscar intend to kill a person and did he know that person was Reeva.
All of us collectively have spent over a year pontificating about the “whys” and “hows” of this case but at the end of the day, why he did it or what they may or may not have fought about, is actually not important to the verdict.
It’s very easy to get bogged down in those details, and that almost always plays in favor of the defense predominantly in a jury trial. However, a Judge knows that many questions in these types of cases are almost never resolved. Judges rely on the facts of the case, not the possible scenarios.
Does it feel more comfortable to know “why” when these murders happen? Of course it does. As humans, it’s our nature to want to know…
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As new footage emerges of Oscar Pistorius rein acting the events of Reeva SteenKamp’s death. The Defence team will be as mad as hell that the secret footage, commissioned by them in preparation for the trial, has hit the headlines. Despite the potential legal ramifications, the revealing of the footage begs some key questions;
- Will the State Prosecutor be able to make a case for it being viewed at the trial?
- Will the content of this video be sufficient to force OP to return to the stand?
- How will Judge Masipa include the revelation (if at all) in her estimation of OPs guilt or otherwise
Monday the 7th July promised to be an interesting day in the High Court with Professor Derman having to face Gerrie Nel once more. One can only imagine the tension that will surround the proceedings after this latest challenge to the level of ‘truth’ that has been offered in evidence by, not only Oscar Pistorius but also his Defense team.
Barry Roux, Kenny Oldwage and Ramsay Webber will face the obvious challenge – How can they, in all conscience, stand in Court on oath and peddle the lie that Oscar Pistorius was so limited in his mobility without his prosthetic legs, that his physical response on that evening was limited because of his disability? The Defence and OP would have us believe that he was ‘shaky’ on his stumps. Lacked confidence when he didn’t have his prosthetics on and couldn’t walk without having something to balance against/on.
What is staggering is that, the Defence team knew all along that Oscar had ‘useful’ physical function on his stumps yet they and other witnesses and ‘Experts’ peddled the same lie that he couldn’t have escaped the situation with Reeva (on his version that there were intruders in the house) because of his limited physical ability.
I had proposed, in an earlier blog piece, that as a lifelong double amputee, it would be unbelievable that Oscar Pistorius would not have had a fair measure of function on his stumps. Most double amputees have learned to manage remarkably well on their stumps. My suggestion was that it was disingenuous for Oscar and his Defence team to maintain that, the ‘flight’ response wasn’t an option. It clearly was an option and Oscar didn’t take it. The big question is, why didn’t he take it?
What is for certain is that the myriad of witnesses who have testified to Oscar Pistorius physical limitations will be having second thoughts after they see the Australian documentary tonight (if the Lawyers haven’t embargoed it but then) if they are rational. Many fans of OP bought the ‘I have limited mobility without my prosthetic legs so I couldn’t have got Reeva out and down the stairs to safety because I can’t manage very well on my stumps’
The promotional footage that could be viewed yesterday (interestingly, not so easily seen today) shows quite clearly that Oscar Pistorius can virtually RUN on his stumps. In fact, Kenny Oldwage in raising an objection on Thursday’s evidence corrected Gerrie Nel and announced in Court that ‘ the accused ran to the edge of the carpet’. It is abundantly clear now that the defence team know fine well that a key plank of the Defence case is flawed.
Perhaps more importantly, this serves to show that both the Defence team and Oscar Pistorius are playing a canny game in terms of their versions of the ‘truth’
How the Defence handle their knowing of OP’s ability on his stumps and how Gerrie Nel ‘works’ this latest revelation into the trial while Derman in on the stand will be fascinating.
In a previous post regarding Oscar Pistorius mobility http://wp.me/p3jRvD-3x I raised the question of the ability that most lifelong ‘double amps’ have on their stumps. Many OP fans came onto social networking sites saying he had no or limited mobility when he was without his prosthetic legs (because that’s what OP said)
I posted some Youtube clips of double amputees managing their mobility for those with no experience to be able to see just what is possible for those who have had to learn to mobilise without their natural legs. I offered from my own experience of working with double amputees, that life long amputees have a greater resourcefulness in combatting their disability than unilateral amputees who have had the misfortune of suffering a motorbike accident or some other traumatic situation.
See links below
I pointed out that in OP’s bail submission he said,
“I felt a sense of terror rushing over me. There are no burglar bars across the bathroom window and I knew that contractors who worked at my house had left the ladders outside. Although I did not have my prosthetic legs on I have mobility on my stumps”
Here we see OP admitting he HAS mobility on his stumps. He goes on to say,
“It filled me with horror and fear of an intruder or intruders being inside the toilet. I thought he or they must have entered through the unprotected window. As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself. I believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger. I felt trapped as my bedroom door was locked and I have limited mobility on my stumps”
OP continues to explain what he did in those moments immediately prior to the shooting.
“When I reached the bed, I realised that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet. I returned to the bathroom calling her name. I tried to open the toilet door but it was locked. I rushed back into the bedroom and opened the sliding door exiting onto the balcony and screamed for help”
Here we have three references to his mobility and lack of it. OP’s defense team has clearly instructed him to play on his disability wherever possible so he backtracks somewhat in his second reference to limited mobility. His third reference to his mobility is contained in his explanation of how he “rushed back into the bedroom….”
In OP’s testimony on 10th April, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwzV3uB9UrI in an exchange with Gerrie Nel on the arrangements of the fans and the balcony curtains, Oscar slips up again and says on two different occasions, once at about 36:33 and again at 37:21, he discusses the fan having been moved, “I would have run out onto the balcony to shout for help”. Note he didn’t say, I shuffled out on the balcony or I crawled out. He said he would have “run out”!
So we have OP giving different explanations depending upon if he remembers to follow the Defense team instructions or not (play on your disability Oscar) Oscar Pistorius devotees accept this proposition without question because that’s what they want to hear. They simply point to Oscar’s testimony where he has remembered to follow instructions, and says he has “limited mobility on his stumps”
If you haven’t got this yet, this is the proposition. Oscar Pistorius had a choice that night. He wants the Court to believe that he acted out of his fear of crime (throw in GAD too) and that he wanted to protect Reeva. In this, he didn’t know where Reeva was at the critical point, yet he chose to confront the danger. He didn’t have to do this, he could have got Reeva and simply got out of the bedroom and downstairs. His lack of mobility is a cop out. If he wanted to, he would have ‘shuffled’ out like so many amputees do but it is likely that he could have walked out on his stumps.
This is a key point because it highlights Dr Vorsters point that OP told her that he ‘fired at the noise that he heard” demonstrating that he actively chose to approach the “intruder” and before he knew who or what was behind the door, delivered his ammunition with such devastating consequences.
Oscar Pistorius had choices. He could have got out of the situation had he really wanted to and he chose to confront the danger when he didn’t have to. It is likely that these factors will be pivotal in the final analysis. If he doesn’t get Murder he will certainly get a significant sentence as a result of this.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onX7NJguuHc This is a recent amputee developing his walking ability on his stumps
This piece from the website, Forensic Transcription http://forensictranscription.com.au/what-is-oscar-pistorius-saying/ examines what exactly Oscar Pistorius said in his evidence, in relation to the moments after he managed to get into the toilet where Reeva was lying fatally wounded.
The website authors postulate that OP may have actually said something quite different to that which most media outlets published.
It is interesting because it raises the issue of what exactly happened in the moments before and after he shot through the door. Many on social media have discussed OP’s timeline and his description of what he did with Reeva immediately after he found her. The Forensic Pathologist, Gert Saayman, gave evidence that Reeva could not have lived for very long after she received the head shot. He explained to the Court that Model Reeva Steenkamp would most likely have drawn only a few breaths after she was shot in the head.
OP’s version offered at his bail affidavit quoted below, shows that he believes that Reeva died while carrying her downstairs.
“I returned to the bathroom and picked Reeva up as I had been told not to wait for the paramedics, but to take her to hospital. I carried her downstairs in order to take her to the hospital. On my way down Stander arrived. A doctor who lives in the complex also arrived. Downstairs, I tried to render the assistance to Reeva that I could, but she died in my arms.”
This could not have been the case because of the devastating head wound she suffered. Gert Saayman’s version of how quickly she died was not contested by the Defence.
So, back to Forensic Transcription. They say that acoustic analysis of the words spoken, albeit in a very distressed state, shows that he in fact, he said, “she was everything”. Most media reported him to have said, “She wasn’t breathing” (when he sat with her in the toilet) Listen to the sound clips to see if you can determine what he actually said. I think you can call it either way. If you listen to both versions, they both can fit either version.
If OP did say, “She wasn’t breathing”, it again throws into doubt his version of events and potentially obscures the Defences timeline. Reeva could not have been alive when he carried her down the stairs. This also raises the question of how the ‘arterial spurts’ got onto the walls. Did he take her downstairs immediately after he shot her? If OP said, “she was everything”, this would seem out of context given his narrative at that specific point in his evidence. The website invites readers to check the context with a link to the BBC to appreciate the context of the comment. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-26939443
Admittedly the issue raises further questions about the case. What is your view?
In the Oscar Pistorius trial many people wonder why Oscar didn’t simply wake Reeva Steenkamp up when he became concerned about ‘intruders’ (The Defence version) It seems from most of the witnesses who have been on the stand, made the same point. The first thing they did when they heard noises in the night, was to wake their respective partners and ask if they heard the noises too. Oscar Pistorius chose not to do to his and approached the danger having armed himself with his gun.
Many Oscar Pistorius fans who argue his innocence on Social Media say he couldn’t have taken the option to get out of the danger area because he had limited mobility on his stumps. I argued with many contributors on Twitter that. as a lifelong double amputee, he would have been well used to moving around without his prosthetic legs as most ‘double amps’ do, especially those who have had their disability since they were young (in Pistorius case, since he was 11 months old) However, the group of devoted followers of Oscar chose not to believe this possible and still argued he couldn’t have simply avoided the danger and got him and Reeva out of the bedroom.
The Pistorius affidavit, gives us an insight, in Pistorius own words as to how he manages movement without his prosthetic legs.
“During the early morning hours of 14 February 2013, I woke up, went onto the balcony to bring the fan in and closed the sliding doors, the blinds and the curtains. I heard a noise in the bathroom and realised that someone was in the bathroom.
I felt a sense of terror rushing over me. There are no burglar bars across the bathroom window and I knew that contractors who worked at my house had left the ladders outside. Although I did not have my prosthetic legs on I have mobility on my stumps.”
So we hear from Pistorius himself that it was clearly not difficult for him to go onto the balcony and collect two fans, bring them in and on hearing a noise in the bathroom, retrieves his 9mm pistol then advances toward the danger. Note Oscars statement did not start with, I have difficulty moving around without my prosthetic legs on so I crawled out onto the balcony then crawled back in……….. . If it was, as Oscar says, a seemingly simple task to retrieve fans from the balcony, why couldn’t he have woken Reeva like all of the other witnesses were able to do and lead her out of the house?
Kids with lifelong amputations have no difficulty literally running around playing football with their stumps, you simply can’t stop them from being normal kids. You would be amazed what they can get up to especially those who had their amputations in their early years.
I wonder why the Prosecution didn’t put Oscar to the test by asking him to demonstrate his non prosthetic mobility as they did with others wielding the cricket bat for example. He was asked to remove his prosthetics but that was no test of his true mobility.
Further interest on topic;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onX7NJguuHc This is a recent amputee developing his walking ability on his stumps
Oscar Pistorius Bail application statement
19 February 2013.
I am the Applicant in this application in which I seek relief from this Honourable Court to be released on bail. I respectfully submit, as I will demonstrate herein, that the interests of justice permit my release on bail. In any event, the dictates of fairness and justice in view of the peculiar facts herein warrant that I should not be deprived of my liberty and that I should be released on bail.
I make this affidavit of my own free will and have not in any way been unduly influenced to depose thereto.
The facts herein contained, save where expressly indicated to the contrary, are within my personal knowledge and belief, and are both true and correct.
The purpose of this affidavit is to provide the above Honourable Court with my personal circumstances and to address the allegations leveled against me (in so far as they are known to me), as well as to address the factors to be considered by the above Honorable Court as contained in Sections 60(4) to 60(9) of the Act.
I have been advised and I understand that I bear the burden to show that the interests of justice permit my release and that I am obliged to initiate this application. I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated murder, as I had no intention to kill my girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp (“Reeva”). However, I will put factors before the Honourable Court to show that it is in the interests of justice to permit my release on bail.
I state that the State will not be able to present any objective facts that I committed a planned or premeditated murder. For this reason I will hereunder deal with the events which occurred that evening. The objective facts will not refute my version as it is the truth. I am a professional athlete and reside at [address redacted].
I was born on 22 November 1986, at Johannesburg. I have resided in the Republic of South Africa (“the RSA”) all my life, and although I frequently travel abroad to participate in international sporting events, I regard South Africa as my permanent place of abode. I have no intention to relocate to any other country, as I love my country.
I own immovable assets in South Africa, which consist of the following:
The immovable property in which I currently reside, at [address redacted] (“the residential premises”). This property is valued at approximately R5 million and is encumbered by a mortgage bond in the amount of approximately R2 million.
Two further immovable properties located within Weeping Willow Estates, Pretoria East, which properties have a combined value of approximately R1,6 million. Both properties are bonded to an aggregate value of approximately R1 million.
A vacant stand in Langebaan, Western Cape, which has a value of approximately R1,7 million. This property is not bonded. I own movable assets comprised of household furniture and effects, motor vehicles and jewellery, which are valued in excess of R500,000,00.
My friends and family reside in the RSA, although I also have friends abroad.
My professional occupation currently provides me with an income of approximately R5,6 million per annum.
I have cash investments in excess of R1 million at various banks within the RSA.
I have never been convicted of any criminal offences either in the RSA or elsewhere. There are no outstanding cases, other than the present, being investigated against me by the South African Police Services (“SAPS”).
My legal representatives have explained the provisions of Section 60(11) of the Act to me. I respectfully make the following submissions in this regard:
I have been informed that I am accused of having committed the offence of murder. I deny the aforesaid allegation in the strongest terms.
I am advised that I do not have to deal with the merits of the case for purposes of the bail application. However, I believe that it is appropriate to deal with the merits in this application, particularly in view of the State’s contention that I planned to murder Reeva. Nothing can be further from the truth and I have no doubt that it is not possible for the State to present objective facts to substantiate such an allegation, as there is no substance in the allegation. I do not know on what different facts the allegation of a premeditated murder could be premised and I respectfully request the State to furnish me with such alleged facts in order to allow me to refute such allegations.
On the 13th of February 2013 Reeva would have gone out with her friends and I with my friends. Reeva then called me and asked that we rather spend the evening at home. I agreed and we were content to have a quiet dinner together at home. By about 22h00 on 13 February 2013 we were in our bedroom. She was doing her yoga exercises and I was in bed watching television. My prosthetic legs were off. We were deeply in love and I could not be happier. I know she felt the same way. She had given me a present for Valentine’s Day but asked me only to open it the next day
After Reeva finished her yoga exercises she got into bed and we both fell asleep.
I am acutely aware of violent crime being committed by intruders entering homes with a view to commit crime, including violent crime. I have received death threats before. I have also been a victim of violence and of burglaries before. For that reason I kept my firearm, a 9 mm Parabellum, underneath my bed when I went to bed at night.
During the early morning hours of 14 February 2013, I woke up, went onto the balcony to bring the fan in and closed the sliding doors, the blinds and the curtains. I heard a noise in the bathroom and realised that someone was in the bathroom.
I felt a sense of terror rushing over me. There are no burglar bars across the bathroom window and I knew that contractors who worked at my house had left the ladders outside. Although I did not have my prosthetic legs on I have mobility on my stumps.
I believed that someone had entered my house. I was too scared to switch a light on.
I grabbed my 9mm pistol from underneath my bed. On my way to the bathroom I screamed words to the effect for him/them to get out of my house and for Reeva to phone the police. It was pitch dark in the bedroom and I thought Reeva was in bed.
I noticed that the bathroom window was open. I realised that the intruder/s was/were in the toilet because the toilet door was closed and I did not see anyone in the bathroom. I heard movement inside the toilet. The toilet is inside the bathroom and has a separate door.
It filled me with horror and fear of an intruder or intruders being inside the toilet. I thought he or they must have entered through the unprotected window. As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself. I believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger. I felt trapped as my bedroom door was locked and I have limited mobility on my stumps.
I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police. She did not respond and I moved backwards out of the bathroom, keeping my eyes on the bathroom entrance. Everything was pitch dark in the bedroom and I was still too scared to switch on a light. Reeva was not responding.
When I reached the bed, I realised that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet. I returned to the bathroom calling her name. I tried to open the toilet door but it was locked. I rushed back into the bedroom and opened the sliding door exiting onto the balcony and screamed for help.
I put on my prosthetic legs, ran back to the bathroom and tried to kick the toilet door open. I think I must then have turned on the lights. I went back into the bedroom and grabbed my cricket bat to bash open the toilet door. A panel or panels broke off and I found the key on the floor and unlocked and opened the door. Reeva was slumped over but alive.
I battled to get her out of the toilet and pulled her into the bathroom. I phoned Johan Stander (“Stander”) who was involved in the administration of the estate and asked him to phone the ambulance. I phoned Netcare and asked for help. I went downstairs to open the front door.
I returned to the bathroom and picked Reeva up as I had been told not to wait for the paramedics, but to take her to hospital. I carried her downstairs in order to take her to the hospital. On my way down Stander arrived. A doctor who lives in the complex also arrived. Downstairs, I tried to render the assistance to Reeva that I could, but she died in my arms.
I am absolutely mortified by the events and the devastating loss of my beloved Reeva. With the benefit of hindsight I believe that Reeva went to the toilet when I went out on the balcony to bring the fan in. I cannot bear to think of the suffering I have caused her and her family, knowing how much she was loved. I also know that the events of that tragic night were as I have described them and that in due course I have no doubt the police and expert investigators will bear this out.
I will stand my trial should it proceed against me. I am a well-known international athlete and there is no possibility that I will even think of not standing my trial should there be one. I trust the South African legal system and that the facts will show that I did not murder Reeva.
In order to persuade the above Honourable Court that I should be released on bail, I provide the following additional facts and information in terms of Section 60 of the Act.
I do not know the identity of any witness upon whom the State will rely in order to attempt to prove a case against me. In any event, I have no intention to interfere with any witnesses as I have no cause to do so and I undertake not to do so.
I maintain good relationships with people and I bear no grudges against anyone.
As previously stated, I have no previous convictions and I have not been released on bail pending any charges.
I am not disposed to violence.
I respectfully submit that the facts set out above support my contention that I do not constitute a flight risk.
I have two South African passports, the one is full. I need my passport to compete overseas but I am willing to surrender the passports to the investigating officer should it be a condition of bail. I am not in possession of any other travel documents and undertake not to apply for such documentation pending the finalisation of these proceedings.
After the shooting I did not attempt to flee. Rather, I accepted Stander would contact the police, and I remained at the scene. I will be able to raise an appropriate amount to post as bail.
I have no knowledge of any evidentiary material which may exist with regard to the allegations levelled against me. In any event, I believe that whatever such evidence may be, it is in the possession of the police; it is safely secured and I do not have access thereto. I undertake not to interfere with any further investigations.
I am not sure which witnesses the State will rely upon in order to attempt to prove its case against me. Nonetheless, I undertake not to communicate with any witness, whoever he or she may be, and any other persons whose names may appear on a list of “State witnesses”, to be provided by the State.
My continued incarceration can only prejudice me and creates no benefit to the State.
I respectfully submit that should I be released on bail, my release shall not disturb the public order or undermine the proper functioning of the criminal justice system.
I will comply with such conditions as the above Honourable Court may wish to impose.
I accordingly submit that the interests of justice, considerations of prejudice and the balancing of respective interests favour my release on bail.
This thought-provoking piece by Ros Godlovitch Chappell is a fascinating view on a major point in The Oscar Pistorius Trial. I have observed much of the proceedings and I myself, have wondered about this issue. Ros Godlovitch, an Oxford Academic, paints a stark picture of what, in her view may be the ‘smoking gun’ in this case. Ros has been in contact with the State Prosecution team to offer her view.
What do you think after reading this account. Please share your view
@Roschappell who wrote this piece is getting ‘out of shape’ because I re blogged her article. She contacted me to ask me to make amendments to it which I did. She asked me to use her link and to make comments which I did. Now she is telling the Twitterati that she has been wronged. For the record, here is the conversation, lest it be perceived that she was being ignored by me.
If you get into a discussion with Ros, be careful you dont write anything that sounds like hers.
Thanks for an adult conversation Ros.
by Sani Dowa
Not since OJ Simpson has a trial captured the world’s interest in the way the Oscar Pistorius trial has. As different camps fight it out on Twitter and the media runs with the most sensational headlines of the day, the public awaits the court’s verdict with fascination and impatience.
On one side is a defence team with a dual objective, to get Oscar acquitted and to salvage his public image. And so we’re treated to a carefully choreographed script that’s heavily reliant on his public displays of grief. Pay no attention to the semantics over whether or not he “took acting lessons”, this is a meticulously managed performance where nothing has been left to chance.
On the other side is a prosecution that’s quietly confident in its case and keeping its eye firmly on the points of law that it believes will help it win this battle.
While it’s too early to call the verdict, I’ll bravely put out there that the State has a strong case that’s been overshadowed by the theatrics in the courtroom. I’ll be very surprised if Oscar walks away from this without doing some jail time.
In the public’s search for a smoking gun a few facts have been overlooked and the strength of the State’s case underplayed. Thankfully this is not a jury trial, in the end the verdict will be decided more on points of law than the public dramatics.
There’s been a lot of talk about Oscar being charged with ‘pre-meditated murder’, however, looking at the indictment he’s charged simply with murder, which under South African law is the unlawful and intentionalkilling of a person. The fact we now know there was never a burglar in that house makes the killing unlawful, even by his version. His defence accepts Reeva’s killing was unlawful, the dispute is whether or not it was intentional.
In looking at intention, the concepts of murder directus (dolus directus) and murder eventualis (dolus eventualis) come into play. Under directus he fired those shots knowing it was Reeva and intending to kill her. Under eventualis he shot believing it was a burglar but could foresee the possibility that he would kill the burglar and went ahead and shot anyway. Hence the charge is a double barrelled one so to speak. The State will argue (a) “you shot Reeva after an argument fully intending to kill her and (b) “even if we accept your version that you thought it was a burglar, you still shot knowing you would kill that burglar”. The fact he overrode a gun with a double safety mechanism, not once but four times, to fire black talon ammunition into a tiny cubicle makes it unbelievable that he did not intend to kill the person behind the door even by his version.
If Judge Masipa finds it was murder directus Pistorius will probably get a life sentence and if she finds it was eventualis, he’ll get a lighter sentence.
2. Motive is irrelevant
In the public arena there’s been much talk that Oscar couldn’t possibly be guilty of murder because the State hasn’t proved motive. However, an important fact has been overlooked; the State doesn’t have to prove motive to get a conviction! While motive is nice to know the State can still show that, for example, as a competent gun owner he shot fully understanding the consequences of his actions and with full intent to kill. Proving why he formed this intention is his motive and not essential for conviction.
It’s also relevant to note here that intent can be a decision made a few minutes before he shot, it need not mean he sat up plotting it weeks in advance.
3. Circumstantial evidence is evidence
Oscar’s supporters often state “we’ll never know what happened that night”, “It’s between him and his God” and “who are we to judge?” as if somehow this gives him immunity from being held accountable! The fact that the only other person in the house that night is dead necessarily makes the State’s case a circumstantial one. However, circumstantial evidence should not be assumed to be weak or invalid.
Remember, criminals are convicted on circumstantial evidence every day and it can often be more reliable than direct evidence. Circumstantial evidence requires some inference or reasoning in order to prove a fact as opposed to direct evidence from an eye witness or participant for example but can be strong evidence nonetheless.
4. And then there’s Culpable Homicide
Even if Oscar Pistorius is found not guilty of murder, Judge Masipa can still find him guilty of culpable homicide. The difference of culpable homicide from murder is that the unlawful killing is negligent rather than intentional. Here the Judge will use the reasonableness test – would a reasonable person have shot four times into that toilet without determining who was in it or indeed where his girlfriend was who hadn’t answered any of his shouts?