Pistorius trial: Focus on crime scene integrity

Missing watches and the integrity of the crime scene are the focus of today’s proceedings.

Oscar Pistorius arrives at the High in Pretoria ahead of day 10 of his murder trial on 14 March 2014. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

PRETORIA - Before an adjournment for tea, defence advocate Barry Roux began his cross-examination of former Boschkop station commander Schoombie van Rensburg.

Oscar Pistorius is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

While the Paralympic and Olympic athlete claims he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder, the state claims it was murder.

Reeva Steenkamp. Picture: Sapa.

He also faces gun-related charges in connection with two separate shooting incidents.

The 27-year-old pleaded not guilty to all charges on day one of his trial.

The focus of this morning's proceedings has been on Pistorius's stolen wrist watches, the gun he used to shoot Steenkamp and the bathroom door through which the shots were fired.

During cross-examination, defence advocate Barry Roux said he was trying to ascertain the extent of van Rensburg's observations when he first attended to the crime scene.

Colonel Schoombie Van Rensburg testifies at the High Court in Pretoria during the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius on 13 March 2014.

Roux was trying to line up the witness, getting him to state clearly that van Rensburg and former investigating officer (I/O) Hilton Botha did not touch anything at the crime scene.

Former investigating officer Hilton Botha. Picture: AFP.

Van Rensburg said, "I/O Botha and I did not disturb anything in the bathroom or bedroom."

He said while inspecting the scene and following the blood trail, he and Botha had communicated as they walked through while pointing out significant items.

Van Rensburg said they went through the bedroom, past the bed and out the sliding door onto the balcony and confirmed they were acutely aware they could not touch anything.

The former commander revealed Botha, who is accused of contaminating the scene, was left alone in the bathroom for some time while he inspected the 'Blade Runner's' bedroom.

Earlier, Roux alleged there was a strategy by the state to avoid putting Botha on the stand.

Nel said he didn't know as it all depended on the evidence.

Van Rensburg also admitted that the gun used by Pistorius was handled by a ballistics expert without using gloves.

Roux then pointed out glaring differences between statements given to police by Botha and van Rensburg.

In Botha's statement read out in court by Roux, he claims to have been inside the bathroom before van Rensburg.

Roux also pointed out differences about where Pistorius was when they arrived.

Van Rensburg suggested Botha may have written his statement based on hearsay.

Roux also questioned the former station commander about his ability to make accurate observations.

EWN video: Schoombie van Rensburg testifies.

'MISSING WRIST WATCHES'

Earlier, Nel questioned van Rensburg about two of Pistorius's watches which went missing from the crime scene.

Van Rensburg said, "When I first saw the box of watches, I noticed they were expensive and might be tempting for some people."

He told the state photographer to take photos of the box of watches and to also keep an eye on it as it couldn't be removed because there were specks of blood on it.

"After the accused was removed from the scene, I found the forensic team inside the main bedroom. The photographer apologised to me that the forensics had started without him. He was satisfied with situation."

Van Rensburg said he noticed a watch from the bottom left of the box was missing.

"The photographer told me that the sister of the accused took the watch."

He then called all the personnel to the garage and body-searched them, their bags and vehicles for the watch.

"Apparently a second watch was also taken and I personally opened up a case of theft."

He said after blood analysis was conducted, the remaining watches were returned to the accused, but not the box.

EWN Video: A 3D look inside Oscar Pistorius's house.

CRIME SCENE ACCESS

Van Rensburg said an inventory of items in the house was not made, but he controlled access to the scene and deployed his detectives to monitor the access.

An overhead view of Silver Woods Country Estate in Pretoria. Picture: Carte Blanche.

Van Rensburg said the door was the most valuable exhibit on the scene as the deceased was behind it when she was shot dead.

"We removed the door and put it in a body bag. I took control of the exhibit and signed for it. It was kept in my office which is secure as I am the only person with a key."

A police forensics expert staged a re-enactment at the High Court in Pretoria of how Oscar Pistorius broke down the door of the toilet where he shot Reeva Steenkamp. Picture: Pool.

The former colonel said the door remained in his office until 28 February 2013 and during that time, no one tampered with it.

"On 18 February, we broke the seal in the presence of the defence team as they wanted to view the door."

He said the defence team took photos, and then wanted to remove the door from the bag to establish the height of the bullets.

"I declined this request as the purpose of sealing it was to open it in a controlled environment."

EWN video: Bathroom door takes centre stage.

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