6 March 2014

South Africa: Defence Takes Oscar Witness to Task

Photo: Marco Longari/Sapa
South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius crying.

Pretoria — Oscar Pistorius's defence took a witness to task on Thursday over changes he made to his statement on what he heard on the night the paralympian shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

"You want to extricate any suggestion that this version was also your wife's version," Barry Roux SC said in the High Court in Pretoria.

"You want that out," he said, as murder-accused Pistorius listened intently to the softly spoken man in the stand.

"That is what it's all about," said Roux, waving a copy of Johnson's statement, a highlighted line showing across the court room.

Pointing a finger and holding it still in both hands, front showing to Johnson, Roux continued asking why Johnson's statement changed so many times.

On Wednesday, Roux asked for Johnson's original notes about what he heard from his home in Silver Stream, which is next to Silver Woods, where Pistorius has admitted shooting Steenkamp dead.

He has pleaded not guilty to murder as charged by the State, which seeks to prove Steenkamp died during an argument, saying he fired shots because he thought there was an intruder in the house.

Roux said one statement said he did not count the number of shots that were fired, but his wife recalled "about four or five shots".

"And that is so removed from this musical talent to count shots. It is not the same," said Roux, referring to Michelle Burger's testimony that she could remember hearing four bangs because of her musical training.

Grappling for words, Johnson said he wrote it at work where he was probably meant to be doing other work, so he considered that statement a rough guideline.

It was common practice to do drafts of documents, he said.

Roux asked what he had told the investigating officer Captain van Aardt about the shots.

His own version was there were more than what his wife said, and even after Pistorius's bail hearing where it was said there were four shots, he did not change his version, even though his wife had a different version.

But Roux wanted to know why he dropped the word "about" from a later version in describing what his wife recalled.

He said that he would bring evidence to prove that what Johnson heard "must describe" the breaking down of the toilet door with a cricket bat.

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