Pretoria - She sat in the second-to-back row and took out a compact of make-up. As Colonel Giliam van Rensburg commented on a picture of the stairs down which Oscar Pistorius carried Reeva Steenkamp’s body, she powdered her nose. Slowly.
As the former police officer moved on to a picture of a blood-splattered cushion, she took out a lipstick and applied it. Then gloss.
As the beige tiles of Pistorius’s suburban home seemed to dominate every picture, those in court appeared increasingly weary. There were no spiffy sound bites in Thursday’s testimony. No “he said: security, everything is okay” moments where the sound of fingers against keys in court reaches fever pitch as we try to grab every last word.
Some removed their shoes and rested their bare feet on the seats in front of them. One man even took a quiet phone call. “I’m in court,” he whispered. My Twitter feed read: picture of door, linen cupboard, floor, blood splatters, banister, fan, expensive watches, blood splatters, cellphone, wall, small sitting room, blood-soaked towel, blood, blood, blood.
There was a monotony to it that we hadn’t immersed ourselves in thus far. And although the pictures were in no way flippant and drew a strong reaction from the friends of Steenkamp, even Pistorius managed to remain calm on the whole.
Many commented it had taken nine days, but we were finally in the reality of court: boring, long-winded evidence.
“If you went down on an average day and watched court you would die of boredom,” said Adrian Bellengere, senior lecturer at the School of Law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
“Everyday court work is slow, tedious and a slog. It is picking over the minute details of evidence.”
He said that unlike what was portrayed in a television courtroom drama, there were very few surprises for the legal teams involved.
“There is an obligation to disclose a certain degree of what you plan to lead in evidence,” he said. “You don’t get into court and raise something for the very first time.”
Seemingly random pictures of objects and parts of the house that at face value did not appear to be part of the direct crime scene could prove to be important. Police photographers needed to photograph as much as possible because, once missed, there might be no recreating that evidence. “You prepare for every eventuality,” Bellengere added.
The police would compile albums of pictures they believed relevant to their case and give these to the court. All the pictures they have taken must be declared to the defence regardless.