R200 discount for liking us on FB
Kimberley - Fingerprints that were lifted from the crime scene where the Steenkamp family massacre took place, were never positively identified, due to poor quality.
Deon Steenkamp, 44, his wife Christel, 43, and their daughter Marthella, 14, were shot dead on Good Friday last year on their farm Naauwhoek near Griquatown in the Northern Cape.
Advocate Sharon Erasmus, appearing on behalf of the 16-year-old accused, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, rape and defeating the ends of justice, yesterday pointed out that up until today, the police had not successfully matched the fingerprints.
She stated that it was also possible for an unidentified person to have been on the scene.
Constable Stephen Mohitlhi, from the SAPS Local Criminal Record Centre and a finger print expert, testified in the Northern Cape High Court how he had obtained swabs of the accused.
He also videographed the crime scene on the night of the murder (April 6 2012).
Judge President Frans Kgomo once again warned family members that the footage could be upsetting to sensitive viewers.
Earlier in theday, Deon Steenkamp’s sister, Marianna Smith, who travelled from Stellenbosch to attend the trial, broke down when she saw images of the deceased during a slide show that was displayed in court.
Mohitlhi recorded footage of three drinking glasses that were found on the grass at the back of the house.
One of the glasses was lying on its side while the other two were upright.
Inside the house, he was unable to identify which objects had been disturbed during the commotion, as he explained that there were no witnesses to indicate which items had been moved from its original positions.
“I used my discretion, as no one instructed me where to look for fingerprints. I took finger prints from a firearm holster, the safe, table, counter, fridge and the telephone, although no positive prints could be traced. The safe was open and there were firearms inside.”
He added that an unidentifiable fingerprint was lifted from the safe in the main bedroom.
“It did not have enough ridges to make a positive identification and I was unable to use it. At least seven points are needed in order to make a recommendation.”
The fingerprint was, however, preserved as evidence.
Mohitlhi explained that it was customary to take fingerprints from fridges after housebreakings as suspects often searched for food.
He said the only positive print that could be used was obtained from the glass lying on its side that was found nearest to the house.
Mohitlhi added that he had received a list of all the names from the investigating officer, including that of the accused and Deon, Christel and Marthella Steenkamp with which to match the prints.
He said he had only received two thumb prints of Marthella Steenkamp which were obtained during the autopsy, but that it could not be used for investigation purposes as it was a copy of an original.
Mohitlhi said the all fingerprints were scanned through the Automated Fingerprint Identification system – a national database of arrested criminals.
“No matches were found from the prints lifted from the glass.”
He said that no fingerprints were lifted from the steel security door, the wall, wooden door, or the door handle that was “contaminated” by other police officials who had touched the handle before his arrival.
He said the key was not in the door while the wooden door was left open.
Mohitlhi added that the firearms inside the safe appeared to be undisturbed and were sent to the forensic laboratory for testing.
He stated that fingerprints were taken of keys to the safe in the main bedroom, plates, drinking glasses and other objects, including the telephone on the bloodstained counter, although no identifiable fingerprints were detected.
He pointed out that blood could smear a fingerprint.
“There were no prints that were visible to the naked eye, just marks.’
Sergeant Mokgwamme Mongale, a forensic field worker from Upington, handed in two bundles of photographs taken en route to the murder scene and the place where the farm workers stayed.
A picture of a dagga plant, found on the premises, were also part of the evidence.
Mongale collected a torn T-shirt, allegedly belonging to the accused, that was found in one of the rooms. It appeared to be stained with blood.
Cellphones and wallets belonging to the deceased were also bagged and sent to the Griquatown police station as evidence.
He stated that he was not aware of any clean-up operation before he left the scene at 1.19pm on April 7 2012 to take aerial photographs of the farm house.
The defence and prosecution were due to visit Naauwhoek farm on Friday, but due to a shortage of judges at the Northern Cape High Court this will now only take place on Monday.
Diamond Fields Advertiser