Home / Africa / Police ‘fury’ over Pistorius watches

Police ‘fury’ over Pistorius watches





















Colonel Schoombie van Rensburg









Col Van Rensburg told the court that a ballistics expert handled a gun found at the crime scene “without gloves”








A former South African police officer has said he was “furious” when two of Oscar Pistorius’ watches went missing from the crime scene.

Col Schoombie van Rensburg told the murder trial he ordered his officers to be body-searched for the “expensive” watches, but they were not found.

He also said an officer had handled Mr Pistorius’ gun without wearing gloves.

Mr Pistorius denies murder, saying he mistook Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder.

The prosecution says he shot Ms Steenkamp after an argument at his house on Valentine’s Day 2013.

Tweets

Col Van Rensburg, who was initially in charge of the crime scene, said that when he first saw the watches he was worried about them and ordered them to be photographed because they “looked expensive”.

After returning to the main bedroom where a team of forensic experts was gathering evidence, he realised one watch, said to be worth as much as $10,000 (£6,000) was missing. He said he was told Mr Pistorius’ sister Aimee had come into the room and removed it.

After leaving the room again, another watch went missing, so he gave instructions for the police officers and their cars to be searched.

Col Van Rensburg said that after that, everyone entering and leaving the scene was thoroughly searched and entered into a log, presented in court.

He described his stunned reaction to the watches’ disappearance: “I said: ‘I can’t believe it. We were just there. How can this watch be gone?’”

He said he told Mr Pistorius he should file a complaint, while he opened a case of theft.

The former officer, who retired last year, also told the court he was angry when he saw a ballistics expert handling Mr Pistorius’ 9mm pistol without any gloves, and told him to put some on.

The admissions call into question the police’s handling of the crime scene, in a case that is likely to hinge on sensitive forensic evidence, correspondents say.


‘Trail of blood’

Col Van Rensburg also said he saw Mr Pistorius with blood on his arm, while the court was shown a photograph of the South African Paralympic athlete with blood on his shorts.

On Thursday, he told the court in the capital Pretoria he had followed a “trail of blood” up the stairs after arriving at Oscar Pistorius’ home.
















Oscar Pistorius









Oscar Pistorius trial day nine: Key moments








Before Col Van Rensburg began his testimony on Thursday, photographs of Ms Steenkamp’s bloodied head and face were shown in court, prompting Mr Pistorius to vomit.

The athlete, who has had both legs amputated, was sick several times on Monday while evidence from the post-mortem examination was presented to court and has also cried on several occasions.

The court was later told that photos of her body would be removed from the police file and not displayed in court.

The BBC’s Pumza Fihlani, who was in court, says images of the deceased’s body are often shown during trial and the decision could fuel a perception that South African courts give special treatment to the rich and famous.


Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during court proceedings at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, March 13, 2014. The Paralympic athlete has been taking careful notes throughout the trial


Relatives of Oscar Pistorius in court (13 March 2014)His relatives (pictured) have been following the trial closely, as have those of Reeva Steenkamp


The scene in court during Oscar Pistorius' murder trial (13 March 2014)The shooting scene has been re-enacted in court

The trial, which is now in its 10th day, is expected to call on more than 100 witnesses. It had been set to last for three weeks but looks likely to be extended.

The state is seeking to convince the court that Mr Pistorius and Ms Steenkamp – a 29-year-old model, reality TV star and law graduate – had an argument before the athlete fired the shots that killed her.

There are no juries at trials in South Africa, and his fate will ultimately be decided by the judge, assisted by two assessors.

If found guilty, the 27-year-old, a national sporting hero dubbed the “blade runner”, could face life imprisonment.





INTERACTIVE


3D impression of Pistorius house



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  • 1. Balcony


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    Balcony

    Mr Pistorius said in his statement at the start of the trial that he woke in the early hours and walked on his stumps to the balcony, pulled in two fans, closed the sliding door and drew curtains. He said that shortly before he had spoken to Reeva, who was in bed beside him.

    He said he rejected prosecution claims that a witness heard arguing coming from the house before the shooting.



  • 2. Bathroom noise


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    Mr Pistorius said he heard the bathroom window sliding open and believed that an intruder, or intruders, had entered the bathroom through a window which was not fitted with burglar bars.

    “Unbeknown to me, Reeva must have gone to the toilet in the bathroom at the time I brought in the fans,” he said.

    Mr Pistorius said he approached the bathroom armed with his firearm, to defend himself and his girlfriend, believing Ms Steenkamp was still in bed.



  • 3. Shooting


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    Both sides agree four bullets were fired. Ms Steenkamp was hit three times.

    Mr Pistorius said he fired his weapon after hearing a noise in the toilet which he thought was the intruder coming out of the toilet to attack him and Ms Steenkamp.

    He said he was in a fearful state, knowing he was on his stumps and unable to run away or properly defend himself.

    Mr Pistorius said he rejected claims that he was on his prostheses when he shot at the door.

    A witness told the trial she woke to hear a woman screaming and a man shouting for help. She said that after the screams she heard four shots.



  • 4. Bedroom


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    At his bail hearing last year, Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bedroom after shooting at the toilet door, then noticed Ms Steenkamp was not in bed.

    Mr Pistorius said he then realised she could have been in the toilet.



  • 5. Toilet door


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    Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bathroom but the toilet was locked, so he returned to the bedroom, pulled on his prosthetic legs, turned on the lights before bashing in the toilet door with a cricket bat.


    Forensics expert Johannes Vermeulen told the court that the height of the marks on the door caused by the cricket bat suggest Mr Pistorius was on his stumps at the time.



  • 6. Emergency calls


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    Mr Pistorius’s defence team has said he then called security at the gated housing complex and a private paramedic service before carrying Ms Steenkamp downstairs.

    But security guard Pieter Baba told the trial he had called Mr Pistorius first, in response to neighbours’ reports of gunfire, and not the other way round.


    He said Mr Pistorius had told him: “Everything is fine,” before calling him back a few minutes later and crying down the phone.


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