Pistorius to undergo mental evaluation

Judge Thokozile Masipa has ruled in favour of an application to have Pistorius's mental health evaluated.

Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock at the High Court in Pretoria as Judge Thokozile Masipa rules on an application to have him referred for mental observation, 14 May 2014. Picture: Live feed.

PRETORIA - Judge Thokozile Masipa this morning ruled in favour of a state application to have murder accused Oscar Pistorius referred for mental observation.

The court adjourned until Tuesday for the full order to be made which will include details of the referral.

Masipa recommended that Pistorius be treated as an outpatient, meaning he is not likely to be hospitalised for the duration of the observation.

"The aim of the referral is not to punish the accused twice. If there is a possibility of making sure he's an outpatient, I think that would be preferable," she said.

Counsel for the state and defence promised to assist the judge in putting the order together, with full details to be made available in court at 9.30am on Tuesday morning.

Masipa will also clarify how long the athlete will remain under observation, with Section 78 of the Criminal Procedures Act providing for a maximum of 30 days.

JUDGE MASIPA'S RULING

When she began her ruling, Masipa said the state brought the application, but "strangely" the defence opposed it.

She then began reading law dealing with mental illness and criminal responsibility.

"It is clear from the wording that if it is 'alleged' or it 'appears' that the accused might suffer from mental illness the court shall act."

Masipa added, "The trigger for the application was the evidence of a psychiatrist called by the defence team. In opposition, defence counsel said there was no allegation as envisaged in the act, or not substantiated."

The judge added that the accused might not have raised the issue of mental illness, but evidence raised on his behalf cannot be ignored.

She then referred to the finding by the defence's expert psychiatrist, Dr Merryl Vorster, that Pistorius was hyper-vigilant.

Vorster had diagnosed Pistorius with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and provided her findings during her testimony.

Masipa quoted Vorster as saying on numerous occasions that the accused had a long history of the disorder.

The judge said, "This court is ill-equipped to deal with the issues raised on Vorster's report at this stage. Her report, no matter how inclusive, cannot replace a proper inquiry. A proper report would ensure that the accused gets a fair trial."

APPLICATION ARGUMENTS

On Monday, the trial adjourned for the state to consider its next step regarding its application for the 'Blade Runner' to be referred for mental observation.

All counsel. Picture: Pool.

State prosecutor Gerrie 'bull terrier' Nel cross-examined Vorster who said Pistorius has GAD.

Vorster said the court must consider that the Blade Runner had a physical disability and GAD may have had an impact on his actions the night Reeva Steenkamp was killed.

Picture: Carte Blanche.

However, she didn't believe his anxiety was a mental disorder and that he should be able to distinguish between right and wrong.

Vorster also said his mother displayed symptoms of anxiety and slept with a gun under her pillow which had an impact on her children.

In a dramatic turn on Tuesday, Nel told the court the psychiatrist's diagnosis that the athlete suffered from GAD was cause for him to lodge the application.

He told Vorster that the section in the Criminal Procedures Act dealing with mental illness was clear in how to proceed in light of her diagnosis of Pistorius.

Nel lodged his application to have the athlete referred after the defence's psychiatrist concluded presenting her testimony.

DEFENCE REBUTS

Roux argued the state wanted a second opinion about the athlete's mental state, but said this was premature because they would call another expert to testify about Pistorius's vulnerability.

Nel said the fact that Roux believes that even after another witness is called the state will still apply for this application indicates that he is on the right track.

He said if the athlete's anxiety played a role in his actions, then he must be evaluated.

Nel referred to case law, saying if the matter got to an appeals court, questions would be asked about why nothing was done about the psychological diagnosis.

Roux disagreed, saying it was merely an allegation that Pistorius had a mental illness.