Pretoria - Murder accused athlete Oscar Pistorius will need much of his declared annual income of R5.6 million in his battle to stay out of prison if he is convicted of the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
His R8.8m in assets (three Pretoria properties and a vacant stand in Langebaan, Western Cape) and R1m cash investments may also come in handy should the matter drag on for longer than the 14 days it is set down for at the Pretoria High Court.
Pistorius’s legal team of top senior counsel Barry Roux, attorney Kenny Oldwadge and Johannesburg law firm Ramsay Webber Attorneys comes at a hefty price tag.
Roux, Oldwadge and Ramsay Webber Attorneys have been with the 27-year-old since he was arrested in February last year over Steenkamp’s murder.
Roux and Oldwadge led the Paralympian’s successful Pretoria Magistrate’s Court application for bail, set at R1m, while he has retained Ramsay Webber Attorneys as the instructing attorneys.
Ramsay Webber Attorneys also represented Pistorius after he lodged complaints against two Sunday newspapers with the Press Ombudsman.
Last month, Roux and Ramsay Webber Attorneys were unsuccessful in leading the Blade Runner’s opposition to the application by media companies to broadcast their client’s trial at the Pretoria High Court.
Top forensic pathologist Reggie Perumal is also part of Pistorius’s team of expert witnesses, which also includes firearm experts Tom Wolmarans and Jannie van der Westhuizen of Mayville, Pretoria-based Wesco Forensic Services, and research mineralogist and forensic geologist Roger Dixon, formerly with the police’s forensic science laboratories.
Also in Pistorius’s corner is American company Evidence Room, which provides 3D and forensic animations, illustrations and other exhibits in criminal matters and claims to have extensive training and experience in shooting and crime scene recreations.
Asked about the number of Pistorius’s witnesses, his media manager, Anneliese Burgess, referred queries to attorney Brian Webber, whom she said was preparing for the trial.
It is not yet clear how much Pistorius’s trial will cost the State, but a look at some recent, high-profile cases shows it may run into several millions.
The Boeremag treason trial, arguably South Africa’s most expensive court case, took more than 10 years to finalise.
It started in 2003 and the accused were only convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms last year.
Legal Aid SA paid more than R36m.
For high court criminal matters, Legal Aid only pays increased fees of up to R3 860 a day and these are only hiked in “very exceptional circumstances”.
In President Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial, one junior counsel charged between R15 000 and R18 000 a day while another was paid a daily rate of R21 000.
Zuma’s senior counsel, Kemp J Kemp, charged between R24 000 and R36 000 a day. Other silks charge daily rates of between R40 000 and R60 000.
In total, the State paid about R5.3m for Zuma’s corruption trial, including to his long-standing attorney, Michael Hulley.
The State’s case against Pistorius is led by top prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who is responsible for disgraced former police boss Jackie Selebi’s successful conviction and brief jail term for corruption.
Prosecutors have lined up 107 witnesses including Hawks investigators, neighbours, security guards, a University of the Free State (UFS) academic and ex-Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates striker Marc Batchelor, among others.
Pistorius allegedly threatened to “f**k up” Batchelor and “break his legs”.
The double amputee denies ever making such threats and that Batchelor never took them seriously.
Batchelor also never laid any charge against Pistorius, who claims he reported the matter to the Hawks to seek protection after threats from the retired soccer star.
UFS-based SA Doping Control Laboratory head Dr Pieter van der Merwe is expected to testify on the test results of Pistorius’s urine sample.
Steenkamp’s killing by Pistorius turned the world’s spotlight on South Africa.
The Sunday Independent understands that Brand SA, which reports to Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, has cited Pistorius’s fatal shooting of Steenkamp as one of the past year’s negative news developments.
Brand SA is responsible for creating a positive and compelling brand image for the country abroad.
Meanwhile, Gauteng Traffic Police spokesman Obed Sibasa has warned motorists in the capital city of traffic congestion and tight security in the vicinity of the Pretoria High Court tomorrow.
According to Sibasa, police and traffic officers will be on high alert and monitoring traffic to minimise congestion around the court.
“Cars obstructing traffic or illegally parked will be subject to stringent law enforcement,” said Sibasa, adding that police were expecting huge numbers of people to attend the trial.