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Oscar trial: guard’s testimony under fire

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Paralympian Oscar Pistorius listens to a witness testifying at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Pretoria - Cellphone records and conflicting police statements have knocked the testimony of a security guard who was present after Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Monday's proceedings in the High Court in Pretoria began with defence advocate Barry Roux's cross-examination of Silverwoods security guard Pieter Baba.

On Friday, Baba gave his version of the night Pistorius shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp.

On February 13, 2013, Baba had been on the night shift at Silverwoods Country Estate. Just a short while before the shooting, Baba’s security team received complaints of loud noises from a resident’s home.

After a short patrol, Baba returned to the front gate security office, where more complaints came in from residents – including previous witness, Dr Johan Stipp – who had heard the sounds of gunshots coming from Pistorius’s home.

When Baba arrived at Stipp’s home, the doctor told him about where the noises had come from. Baba told the court it was clear that all of the lights were on at that home. He then used his site cellphone to call Pistorius, who told him that “everything (was) fine”.

The security guard said he could tell that Pistorius was crying, prompting him to tell a colleague that things “were not in order”.

Pistorius allegedly called Baba back a short while later, started crying and then hung up the phone.

It was after arriving at Pistorius’s home that Baba saw estate manager Johan Stander arrive with his daughter, and Baba could tell by their faces that something was wrong.

He then saw Pistorius carrying Steenkamp’s body down the stairs of the home, which shocked the security guard to his core.

Baba then left to call the police and paramedics.

Roux only had a short while to start his cross-examination on Friday, but tried to fault Baba’s version of events by saying that Pistorius had called Baba first.

But Baba denied this, and said he would have to look at the phone records for the site cellphone.

On Monday morning, Roux began by presenting a document from the police showing the calls received by the estate security landline. The document revealed that Stipp had called security at 3.15am. Less than a minute later, two more calls came through from other residents. Stipp had told Baba about hearing the gunshots, a 16-second call.

Stipp had told the court that he had been unable to get through to security, but Baba confirmed this was when he had spoken with Stipp.

The security cellphone records revealed, however, showed that Pistorius called security at 3.21am for 9 seconds where the athlete was only crying.

The records said that Baba returned the call a minute later.

But Baba insisted that he had called first, and that Pistorius had called him back.

Roux said that two phone records as well as a chart constructed by the State on the phone calls that night contradicted this.

Roux said that Pistorius also believed that he had called before security arrived at the home, contrary to Baba's testimony.

Roux then argued that on the second call that Pistorius indicated that “he” was fine.

Baba shot back that if Pistorius believed there was an intruder in his home - the defence's key argument - why had he not used the alarm system at the home.

But in Baba's original statement to police from the day of the killing, Baba said Pistorius had said he was “okay”. But Baba stressed he was tired when giving this statement, after a long shift.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel then began his re-examination by asking if Baba had made other statements to police. He said he had also made a statement to lead investigator Captain Mike van Aardt at a later time.

In the second statement, Baba once again said Pistorius had said “everything” was fine.

Roux then queried Baba's state of mind when he first saw Pistorius in his home.

Baba had testified on Friday he was in such shock he could not identify what Pistorius was wearing.

But Roux said Baba's second statement had introduced further evidence not seen in the first statement, including a description of Pistorius.

The witness was stood down.

Professor Gert Saayman was next to take the stand. Saayman told the court he had ethical issues with providing his testimony before the court.

Nel said that Saymaan would provide graphic details on Steenkamp's condition after the shooting and the State was opposing the televising of this testimony.

Nel also said they would prefer to wait for a grief counsellor be present in court before starting.

A short adjournment was called to allow the media to oppose this application.

shain.germaner@inl.co.za

The Star

Click here for IOL’s live blog about the Oscar trial.


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