Pistorius case: Hougaard not on witness list

The state has listed 107 witnesses in its case against murder accused Oscar Pistorius.

Springbok rugby player Francois Hougaard. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - While the state has listed 107 witnesses in its case against murder accused Oscar Pistorius, one noticeable omission from the list is Springbok rugby player Francois Hougaard.

Pistorius made a brief appearance in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Monday where his case was transferred to the North Gauteng High Court for trial next March.

He shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria East home on Valentine's Day.

While he claims the shooting was an accident saying he believed his girlfriend was an intruder hiding in the bathroom, the state alleges it was murder.

The state formally served its indictment on Pistorius, which contained the same charges put to him during his bail application - premeditated murder and illegal possession of ammunition as well as a list of the witnesses it plans to call during the trial.

While Hougaard's name was reportedly on a provisional witness list, the rugby player did not feature on the list of witnesses released on Monday.

However, Eyewitness News understands that prosecutors could still talk to the scrumhalf and haven't ruled out his testimony entirely.

Hougaard dated Steenkamp before she began her relationship with Pistorius.

In the weeks after the shooting, it was widely speculated a text message from Hougaard might have sparked an argument between Pistorius and Steenkamp before the shooting.

Neighbours claimed to have heard screaming before shots were fired in the athlete's Pretoria home.

However, its understood cellphone data from the night of the shooting shows no record of Hougaard calling or sending a text message to either of them.

An ex-girlfriend, Pistorius's sister Aimee and former soccer star Mark Batchelor are among the witnesses listed in the indictment. (See the full witness list & indictment here.)

Dozens of police officers, forensic and ballistic experts as well as staff and residents of the Silverwood Estate are also on the list.

STATE SEEKING LIFE

Meanwhile, state prosecutors will be seeking a mandatory minimum sentence of life behind bars for Pistorius when the matter goes to trial in March next year.

It appears the prosecution will rely on witness statements that screams were heard coming from Pistorius's house before and after several gunshots rang out.

The state will also argue that even if his version is believed, by firing four gunshots blindly through the locked toilet cubicle door, he certainly had intent to kill the person behind it.

Pistorius's family says they are relieved a date has been set so they can now prepare for the trial.

The blade runner's family has supported him since news of the shooting emerged and has given the impression of a strong, tight unit.

The athlete's legal team will also spend the next six months preparing. His lawyers have been given the police docket and will be looking at forensics, ballistics and pathology reports.

The defence will also finalise their own list of witnesses which is likely to include experts in these fields.

The three-week trial gets underway on 3 March 2014.