THE STATE’S CASE
Hilton Botha, Photo: EWN
The State’s indictment against Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius is clear – it will argue that "upon or about the 14 February 2013 and at or near his resident at Silver Lakes, the accused did unlawfully and intentionally kill a person, to wit, Reeva Steenkamp".
Prosecutors are going for the strongest charge possible – Premeditated murder – a Schedule Six offence – which means they will have to show that the athlete acted intentionally and that he deliberately wanted to kill.
The summary of substantial facts, which forms part of the indictment, says Steenkamp "locked herself into the toilet cubicle, the accused armed himself with his 9mm pistol and through the locked door, fired four shots at the deceased".
The indictment claims that even if Pistorius mistook his girlfriend for an intruder, ‘the accused shot with the direct intention to kill a person’ and ‘an error in persona, will not affect, the intention to kill a human being’. In other words, even on his own version, he should be guilty of Murder.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel revealed the State’s version of events during the bail application – but there have been months of investigations and consultations with witnesses since then. While some details may have changed, the essence of the argument is likely to remain the same.
The State will argue that at around 3am in the morning – Pistorius and Steenkamp were in the midst of a heated argument. Steenkamp made her way into the bathroom and barricaded herself in the toilet cubicle, locking the door. It’s likely that she then crouched down behind the toilet. The State will say that Pistorius followed her, walked the seven metres towards the bathroom, armed with his gun, and shot four times through the toilet door.
During the bail application – then investigating officer Hilton Botha – told the court that the bullets were fired "from 1.5 metres away" and "from a normal stance". He suggested the trajectory of the bullets was downwards, towards the toilet seat, and that Pistorius had on his prosthetic legs at the time.
Over a year later, and with the results of forensics and ballistics tests still to be revealed, it’s thought that the State may have to partially backtrack on this version – ballistics are believed to show that the Blade Runner did not have on his prosthetics and was on his stumps at the time.
Evidence from neighbours will be crucial to proving the State’s case – according to the indictment "Some of the state witnesses heard a woman scream, followed by moments of silence, then heard gunshots and then more screaming."
Nel explained to the court:
“Even on his own version there was no imminent danger in the bedroom. Yet he was keen to arm himself, it’s indicative of someone willing to kill. You only fire four shots if you want to kill. He should have foreseen the consequences of firing four shots in a 1,4m x 1,4m room… He must have fired to kill. I walk seven metres, I see a bathroom door, I shoot. The motive is to kill.”