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Pistorius bail hearing: What we know so far

Deshnee Subramany

Investigating officer Hilton Botha has taken the stand on the second day of Oscar Pistorius's bail hearing. Here is the breakdown of his testimony.

Oscar Pistorius at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court. (Felix Karlsson, M&G)

Botha has been a police officer for 24 years and a detective for 16 years. He told the court he opposed the idea of bail for Pistorius since being arrested for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, his girlfriend.

"The accused could be a flight risk. It's a serious crime, a serious matter," he said.

Botha said he arrived at Pistorius's house at about 4.15am on Valentine's Day. Pistorius's lawyer and brother came to the house and said they were looking for documents and a specific memory stick with details of Pistorius's offshore accounts, which Pistorius did not mention in his affidavit on the first day of his bail hearing on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel acted for the state, while advocate Barry Roux defended Pistorius.

State:

  • There were three entrance wounds on Steenkamp's body, one on the right side of her head above her ear, one on her right arm – which broke her arm – and one on her hip. 
  • The shots went through her clothes, showing she was dressed when she was shot.
  • Charges of possession of unlicensed ammunition will be filed against Pistorius, since they found .38 Special rounds in a bedroom safe. He had a licence for a 9mm pistol but not a .38 calibre weapon.
  • Police found an overnight bag on the left-hand side of the bed in the main bedroom, which indicates that was the side Steenkamp was sleeping on. There were also slippers.
  • The gun holster was found on the left side of the bed, Steenkamp's side.
  • Four bullet cartridges were found. One cartridge was found in the passage way by the bathroom, three in the bathroom.
  • There were also two iPhones found with the firearm, which was found next to the shower door. Botha also recovered two BlackBerrys.
  • The iPhones were not used to call the police or paramedics and the BlackBerrys had not been used for a few months. 
  • The bathroom is to the left of the bedroom. Standing in the bathroom doorway, the shower and toilet are to the right. Shots were fired through the toilet door and the top part of the toilet door was broken.
  • Pistorius used a cricket bat to break down the door.
  • There were no defence wounds on Steenkamp's body.
  • Shots hit Steenkamp on her right-hand side, which indicates she was not sitting on the toilet but was in a different position.
  • The bullets were fired diagonally through the door.
  • Botha says the angle of the bullets was downwards "from a normal stance" – indicating that Pistorius had his prosthetics on and was standing at a normal height.
  • The bullets went through the top part of the toilet door. 
  • The cricket bat was found in front of the first wash basin.
  • Two bottles of testosterone and needles were found at Pistorius's house.
  • Pistorius went to bed with the balcony doors open.
  • A witness heard gunshots, saw the lights in the house go on, "a female screaming", and then heard more gunshots.


Defence:

  • Roux said the prosecution insinuated that Pistorius never gave his version of events on the day of the shooting – but he did.
    Botha conceded that Pistorius did.
     
  • The trajectory of the bullets hitting the toilet is consistent with Pistorius's version. The defence asked how Botha would know how far away the bullets were fired from.
    Botha said he was with a forensic expert at the time.
     
  • Roux asked how did one bullet cartridge end up in the passageway if the shots were taken from in front of the basins in the bathroom.
    Botha said Pistorius "moved around".
     
  • Roux said Pistorius had a shoulder problem and so he slept on the other side of the bed than usual on the night in question.
     
  • The defence rubbished the claims of a witness the prosecution used. A witness says the lights were on. Roux said the same witness says eight shots fired and asked if more cartridges shots were found and if the witness identified Pistorius and Steenkamp as the sources of the voices she heard.
    Botha conceded that the witness didn't specifically identify them and that the witness – who heard three shots, then a woman screaming and then another three shots got the number of shots wrong. Botha clarified the witness heard "two to three" shots, saw lights in the house on, then 17 minutes later heard "two to three" more shots.
     
  • The defence asked how far the witness lived from Pistorius.
    Botha said she lived 600m away from him but that she swore under oath.
     
  • Botha didn't ask if there were any other mobile phones other than the ones that were found at the scene and didn't ask for Pistorius's number.
     
  • The testosterone Botha said was recovered at the house was actually a herbal remedy and was not a banned substance.
    Botha admitted to magistrate Desmond Nair that he "didn't read the whole name" when he claimed testosterone was found.
     
  • Defence said Steenkamp had an empty bladder when her body was found, which was consistent with someone getting up to go to toilet.
    Botha agreed to this.
     
  • The defence said it was fair to say Pistorius felt vulnerable because he did not have his legs on. He also asked that, if Botha was in Steenkamp's situation, would it not be fair to assume he would lock the door if Pistorius had screamed for her to call the police.
    Botha conceded both points.
     
  • The defence said Botha did not ascertain who Pistorius spoke to after the shooting. Roux added the housing complex manager received a call at 3.19am from Pistorius asking for help and a call was made at 3.20am to a Netcare hospital.
     
  • Botha did not check whether Pistorius called the hospital. Roux added the security guard Pistorius called after the shooting heard him crying on the phone after Pistorius dropped the phone instead of putting it down properly.
     
  • The defence accused the investigator of bias, saying police disregarded evidence Pistorius gave that day.
     
  • Botha admitted he could not find anything at the crime scene that was inconsistent with Pistorius's accidental shooting version of events.
     
  • Botha also conceded it was pitch dark when the curtains and blinds were closed in the bedroom.

The hearing continues on Thursday.


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