20 May 2014

South Africa: Four to Evaluate Oscar at Weskoppies

Photo: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius in court (file photo).

Pretoria — Four specialists will evaluate murder-accused Oscar Pistorius when he is admitted as a day-patient for mental observation, the High Court in Pretoria ordered on Tuesday.

"The accused [will] be an outpatient at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital," Judge Thokozile Masipa said.

"[The evaluation will] inquire whether the accused... was at the time of the commission of the offence criminally responsible."

It would also determine if Pistorius could appreciate the "wrongfulness of his actions and act according to that appreciation".

Pistorius would go to Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital at 9am on May 26 and every weekday thereafter. He would stay until 4pm, or until he had been excused, said Masipa.

Three psychiatrists and one clinical psychologist would evaluate Pistorius to determine whether his general anxiety disorder and his disability had an effect on him when he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

One psychiatrist was appointed by the defence, one by the court, and another by the hospital.

Pistorius's evaluation would not exceed 30 days, she said.

The psychiatric report would be handed to the registrar of the court, the National Prosecuting Authority, and the defence once it had been completed.

Masipa postponed the matter to June 30. She said records of the trial proceedings would be made available to the specialists.

Before court started on Tuesday, Pistorius sat chatting to a member of his defence team. After the order was handed down, he spoke to his lawyers before leaving court with his older brother Carl and his security detail.

Last Monday, forensic psychiatrist Merryll Vorster, testifying for the defence, told the court Pistorius had general anxiety disorder. Based on this, the State applied to have him referred.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said it was necessary in case his disorder had affected his behaviour when he shot Steenkamp.

Pistorius is charged with the murder of Steenkamp. He shot her dead through the locked door of his toilet in his Pretoria home. He has denied guilt, saying he thought she was an intruder about to open the door and attack him. The State contends he shot her during an argument.

He is also charged with three contraventions of the Firearms Control Act -- one of illegal possession of ammunition and two of discharging a firearm in public. He has pleaded not guilty to these charges as well.

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