By Kennedy Mudzuli, Murray Williams and Sapa
Pretoria - Oscar Pistorius’s lawyers say the images showing the athlete re-enacting the night he shot dead his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was meant for trial preparation and nothing else.
The lawyers have hit out at an Australian television channel for broadcasting images re-enacting the night he shot dead Steenkamp.
An Australian current affairs programme, Sunday Night, aired the sensational footage only in Australia.
In response to the broadcast, a member of the Paralympian’s legal team, Brian Webber from Ramsay Webber Inc, said: “In October 2013, the defence team engaged the services of The Evidence Room, a US-based company specialising in forensic animation.
“The company was engaged to visually map the events on the night of the accident. As part of this process, certain video footage was filmed. The ‘visual mapping’ was for trial preparation only and not intended for any other purpose.”
Webber said the acquisition of the footage was in breach of the law.
“Its usage also constitutes a breach of privilege as this material was produced for trial purposes on the instructions of a commissioner, and the ownership of the copyright vests in the commissioner. No permission for the disclosure thereof has been given.”
The promotional video on Sunday Night shows Pistorius walking on his stumps with an imaginary gun in his hand.
In another scene, Pistorius is seen carrying a woman, reportedly his sister, out of a bathroom.
The website for the show said the video was “never-before-seen footage of Oscar Pistorius re-enacting the night he killed Reeva that convinced a top forensic expert he is innocent”.
In the video, Oscar is seen walking on his stumps without losing his balance. The Daily Mail reported the video shows Pistorius “as he runs towards the camera with one arm outstretched as if holding a gun” and “moving quite quickly and with a high level of agility for a man without the bottom half of his legs”.
“Pistorius can be seen running towards and away from the camera and circling back around the living room of his home.
“As he re-enacts the scene he explains to investigators: ‘I heard the noise and fired four shots’.
“The footage is overlaid with a recording of Pistorius’s voice, a recreation of the moment he claims he warned what he believed was an intruder in the bathroom.
“‘I’ll call the police. Get out, get out! Get the f*** out!,’ he said.
“The Paralympian can then be heard screaming and shouting hysterically after he opened the door to find his girlfriend dead.
“Please God, please, please help. Help me. Help me!” the Daily Mail reported he shouted.
The most dramatic images appear to show Pistorius recreating the worst sight he faced that night – his girlfriend shot dead.
“He then recreates the moment, slumping himself over the toilet with his legs splayed on the floor – he found his girlfriend ‘bleeding to death’ after he beat down the bathroom door with a cricket bat,” the Daily Mail reported.
Webber said Channel 7 had purchased the footage unlawfully.
“In addition, during our engagement with Channel 7, we received an undertaking that they would not air any of the material before the end of the trial,” he said.
“While we cannot imagine how any of the footage would not support Oscar’s version, we will only be in a position to comment further once we have had the opportunity to study what has been aired.”
Webber noted that the broadcast constituted a “staggering breach of trust” and an invasion of the family’s privacy.
Legal expert Ulrich Roux of BDK Attorneys told the Pretoria News on Sunday he did not believe the footage would affect the trial because it had not been used as evidence in court.
Roux said the video appeared to have been shot after all evidence had been led, therefore there was no reason why it would be included now. He said the video did not show much that contradicted what had already been stated in court.
“It could be raised by advocate Gerrie Nel; one never knows with this case. The State prosecutor could bring in a late application to include the video, but that is a very long shot in my view.
“Many such videos are likely to come up every now and then. Both Pistorius and his legal team knew that such a video existed.
“Despite all its twists and turns, I don’t believe the prosecution will use a video that was prepared by the defence to strengthen their case. That would be too risky and dangerous,” Roux said.
Anneliese Burgess, spokeswoman for the Pistorius family, said: “We wish to make it very clear that the material… was obtained illegally and in breach of the non-disclosure agreement with The Evidence Room.
Burgess said that in October last year the defence team had engaged the services of The Evidence Room to visually map the events of the night of “the accident”.
“For the family, the airing of this footage constitutes a staggering breach of trust and an invasion of the family’s privacy.”
She said it had come to the family’s attention that Channel 7 purchased the footage unlawfully.
“During our engagement with Channel 7, we received an undertaking they would not air any of the material before the end of the trial.
The Paralympian described in graphic detail the events leading up to the moment he shot his girlfriend.
The channel claimed the footage convinced top US forensic investigator Scott Roder that Pistorius’s story was true, after he was invited to examine the evidence by the athlete’s uncle. But the footage revealed that Steenkamp’s parents and close friends were concerned that her relationship was turbulent and even violent.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Nathi Ncube said it was not commenting on the video.
Pistorius faces a charge of murder. He claims he shot Steenkamp by accident through the locked door of his toilet in his Pretoria home on February 14 last year, thinking she was an intruder. The State argues he killed her during an argument.