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Kimberley - Lieutenant André McAnda from the Crime Scene Investigation Unit attributed errors that were made during the investigation into the murder of the Steenkamp family on the farm Naauwhoek, near Griquatown, to “trauma and long working hours”.
He apologised to the family of the deceased, the prosecution, defence and the court for a typing error on a forensic report that captured an incorrect number on one of the exhibits.
He was testifying yesterday in the Northern Cape High Court, during the triple murder of Deon, 44, Christel, 43, and Marthella Steenkamp, 14, who were shot and beaten to death.
The 16-year-old accused has pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder, rape and defeating the ends of justice.
During cross-examination, defence counsel, Willem Coetzee, pointed out that the police investigation was riddled with errors.
He stated that the mix-up of the serial numbers that were labelled on the forensic bags, meant that incorrect exhibits were recorded and referenced.
“How many mistakes do you make,” he asked McAnda.
“If evidence is not dealt with properly it can cast doubt on the accuracy of the investigation,” Coetzee said.
Coetzee also highlighted how crucial information such as serial the numbers and dates were missing from the “merry mix” of exhibits.
“The colour, registration number or make of the vehicle that was abandoned along the side of the road was never jotted down. No formal statements were made to indicate that the prominent marks on the vehicle did not test positive for human blood.”
McAnda explained that in any field of expertise, there was always a “margin of error”.
He indicated that the “copy and paste” mistake regarding the labelling of six cartridges that were bagged as evidence, occurred during the night, after he had visited the crime scene, during a second occasion.
“It is expected of us to do our work as professional and accurately as possible. It was done at a time when I was also exposed to the trauma. I know that this is not an excuse but I am only human,” McAnda said.
“Revisiting the scene where an entire family was massacred caused all the memories to come flooding back. I recognised the urgency of the work that needed to be done so I did it during the night.”
The evidence that he had collected including a blue T-shirt, a jacket, fire cartridges, a .22 rifle and telescope, as well as hair and blood samples.
A toxicology report and sexual assault kit that were sent from the mortuary were also packaged and dispatched for forensic and ballistic testing by McAnda.
McAnda said that on the night of the murders, he had taken instructions from the crime scene manager, Colonel Dick de Waal, who had informed him that there had been a farm attack.
“I waited outside the station because I was under the impression that we would be departing for the farm shortly.”
He said that De Waal instead, called him into the station commissioner’s office at the Griquatown police station where he was requested to take photos of and perform a presumptive test on the accused, in the presence of his guardian.
“I also took photographs of injuries on the left side of the accused’s neck and scratch marks on his legs. He wore black shorts, was barefoot and bare-chested.”
McAnda added that the witness (the accused) was requested to remove his pants and hand it in as evidence.
He replied that he was not aware when the accused had removed his running shoes and socks, after the defence pointed to a photograph that was taken of the boy wearing sneakers at the Griquatown police station.
McAnda also took a sample of a blood smear or presumable transfer mark from the accused.
“I wouldn’t have taken a sample because he had a reasonable explanation as to how it got there when he assisted Marthella by trying to stop the blood. At that stage he was a witness and I had no reason to suspect any dishonesty.
“However, upon instruction I complied and had the integrity of the investigation at heart,” McAnda added.
He also said they had spent about 15 to 20 minutes to test what appeared to be blood marks on the abandoned vehicle on the way to the farm Naauwhoek at about 10pm on April 6 2012.
“The test gives a result after two to seven minutes and the bar code looses its luminescence if it tests negative (for blood).”
The case continues.
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