OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL
- Witness Aimee Pistorius
- Oscar’s Uncle Arnold
- Brigadier Gerard Labuschagne
- Darren Fresco
- Oscar’s father, Henke Pistorius
- Witness Samantha Greyvenstein
- Professional boxer Kevin Lerena
- Forensic specialist Lt Col Ian van der Nest
- Ex-soccer player and Supersport commentator Mark Batchelor
- Oscar’s ex, Melissa Rom
- Investigating officer Captain Mike van Aardt
- The Meyers: Gina, Kim, Desi and Cecil
- Professor Gert Saayman
- Oscar’s ex, Samantha Taylor
- Reeva’s ex, Warren Lahoud
The prosecution, led by Advocates Gerrie Nel and Andrea Johnson, released a witness list last year featuring a total of 107 names.
The State’s team has spent the past few months consulting with those witnesses who they intend calling during the trial – This list has been whittled down considerably and many of those named won’t actually have to take the stand. It’s understood the real number of witnesses to be called could be closer to twenty.
Police and forensics
As in most murder trials, the case will likely be structured around the evidence of the investigating officer Captain Mike van Aardt. A seasoned detective with a specialty in cracking serial killers, van Aardt is a highly regarded cop. He worked under so-called Supercop Piet Byleveldt in the team that solved the Leigh Matthews murder, the Sheldean Human case and the Moffat Park serial killer mystery.
Van Aardt took over the Pistorius matter from Hilton Botha, the initial investigating officer after it emerged during the bail application that he too was facing criminal charges. Botha’s name is on the witness list but it’s unclear whether he will be brought back to testify, in light of accusations that he bungled the case and made several concessions during his earlier testimony.
There is a litany of other police officers named as witnesses. These include those from Boschkop Police Station who were first on the scene of the shooting and forensics experts including ballistics, blood spatter and fingerprint specialists.
Brigadier Gerard Labuschagne PhD, who heads the Police’s Investigative Psychology Section, is named. So too is expert forensic specialist Lt Col Ian van der Nest – both men have testified in numerous high profile cases in the past. Labuschagne has testified in over seventy court cases during his career and has assisted in the investigation of over 110 serial murderers and over 200 serial rapists. Van der Nest provided crucial evidence in Eugene Terre’Blanche’s murder trial.
There are also several specialists from the Forensic Science Laboratory and the Department of Health – they would have handled Oscar Pistorius’s blood and urine samples.
Professor Gert Saayman, from the Medico-Legal Laboratory, will be fundamental to the State’s case – he conducted the autopsy on Reeva Steenkamps’ body and will reveal his findings in his post-mortem report. He’s a courtroom regular who heads the forensic medicine department at the University of Pretoria. He’s testified in cases including the Inge Lotz murder and that of acting Judge Patrick Maqubela, amongst others.
First on the scene
Many first responders who were on the scene of the shooting on Valentine’s Day are also named – these include paramedics from Netcare 911 who treated Steenkamp and security guards from Silverwoods Country Estate who responded to the gunshots.
A crucial pillar of the State’s case will be the testimony of neighbours – what they saw and what they heard in the hours before the shooting and when the gunshots rang out.
There are a number of residents of the Silverwoods Country Estatewho are listed – as well as those from the adjacent Silverstream Estate. They will testify about whether the lights in the athlete’s house were on, whether they heard screaming or arguing prior to the shooting and previous incidents that have been reported.
The evidence of the Silverwoods estate manager Johan Stander, who was the first person the Blade Runner claims he called after the incident, will be important as he actually saw Pistorius carrying Steenkamp downstairs. Other members of Stander’s family who were on the crime scene are also named.
The ex's, friends, family and foes
One of Steenkamp’s closest friends Samantha Greyvenstein and her boyfriend, Daytona Group CEO Justin Divaris, feature. They rushed through to the Olympian’s house after receiving a desperate call from him and spent the morning at the scene. The couple provided affidavits in support of Pistorius for his bail application but have since distanced themselves from him.
The State could then call a series of witnesses to testify about Pistorius’s volatile temper, his keen interest in weapons and additional charges he’s facing relating to the reckless and negligent discharge of a firearm.
Ex-soccer player and Supersport commentator Mark Batchelor could testify about how Pistorius threatened to ‘break his legs’ at the Kyalami race track in 2012. The two men got involved in the blow up after the sprinter returned from the London Olympics to find that an unnamed girlfriend had cheated on him with Batchelor’s friend, Clifton Shores producer Quinton van der Burgh. The fracas was finally sorted out by the Hawks.
Professional boxer Kevin Lerena and mutual friend Darren Fresco are expected to give evidence about an incident at Tasha’s restaurant at Melrose Arch in January 2013 when Pistorius accidently fired Fresco’s gun.
Fresco can also testify about a separate incident in September 2012 when the athlete discharged a weapon out the sunroof of a BMW. Pistorius’s ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor was in the car at the time and has also been listed as a witness. Samantha’s mother Trish Taylor is named – she went on Facebook shortly after the shooting and accused Pistorius of being reckless with his guns, expressing relief that nothing had happened to her daughter whilst she was dating him.
Another ex-girlfriend Melissa Rom, who he dated in 2009, is named on the list however Rom’s friend Cassidy Taylor-Memmory, who was involved in a civil lawsuit with Pistorius, has not been asked to testify. The Blade Runner was detained in 2009 after allegedly slamming a door on Taylor-Memmory’s leg while kicking her out of his home during a party. Pistorius counter-sued and the matter was only settled out of court in December last year.
Steenkamp’s ex-boyfriend Warren Lahoud, who she dated for five years, could be called to tell the court how Pistorius had phoned the model twice during a coffee catch-up two days before her death.
Another of her ex-boyfriends, star rugby player Francois Hougaard, is not on the list despite unfounded media speculation that a message from him to Steenkamp could have triggered a fight on the night of her death.
Steenkamp’s so-called adopted family, the Myers, are on the witness list – including Cecil, Desi, Gina and Kim. Gina Myers can testify at length about several explosive arguments between the couple and concerns she had about the athlete’s temper and the intensity of their relationship.
Pistorius’s family members could also be asked to testify for the State against him. His father Henke and sister Aimee are on the list, so too is his uncle Arnold.
But with the State unlikely to call all 107 witnesses during this high profile trial, those who are not used will be handed over to the defence team for consultations. Pistorius’s lawyers will only have to disclose their list of witnesses once the State has closed its case.
The big question then will be – will Oscar Pistorius take the stand in his own defence and face the possibility of cross-examination?