Pointed questions for Oscar’s neighbour

Comment on this story
oscar mar 7 REUTERS Oscar Pistoriuss character and habits have been under the microscope for a year now, says the writer. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

Pretoria - Defence advocate Barry Roux has spent Friday morning trying to disprove the testimony of one of murder-accused Oscar Pistorius's geographically closest neighbours.

Fellow Silverwoods Estate resident Dr Johan Stipp returned to the stand, facing a series of pointed questions regarding his version of events on the night Reeva Steenkamp was killed.

Roux returned to his cross-examination with a re-examination of the gunshots, screams and shouts Stipp had heard that night.

Stipp and his wife had been woken by the sound of what he believed were loud shots.

He then heard three or four extremely fearful screams.

Stipp went to his balcony and looked towards Pistorius's large home, he saw almost all the lights were on, including the bathroom. The screaming continued.

He tried to phone security, but could not get through.

While wondering about who to call next, Stipp heard another three loud bangs. He told his wife to stay down, in case the sounds were gunshots.

He then called 10111 and, after calling security again, he was able to get through.

He was told guards were waiting for a manager, but would be attending the scene soon.

Stipp then put the phone down, went to the balcony and heard a male voice shouting: “Help, help, help.”

Roux said by security's phone records, the first time Stipp called, he had gotten through, a 16-second call.

Meanwhile, the second call did not go through, the opposite of Stipp's testimony.

While it had been established in prior testimony that Steenkamp had been shot at around 3.17am, Stipp's calls to security and the police occurred a short while later.

Meanwhile, Silverwoods Estate manager Johan Stander had called Netcare 911's ambulance services at around 3.28am.

In what appeared to be an attempt to discredit other witnesses' testimony, Roux questioned why when Stipp was on the phone he had not heard the screams, as other witnesses claimed to have heard them around that time.

Stipp said he was focusing on his phone, and it would be unlikely he would have heard them while trying to call for help.

Roux then began questioning Stipp about having seen a figure move across Pistorius's bathroom window, after waking from the loud noises coming from the home.

Stipp said he didn't remember whether the window had been open.

On Thursday, Stipp testified that, on February 21 this year, he was able to hear loud noises coming from Pistorius's home, proving how easy it was for a neighbour of such close proximity to hear what was going on inside. The same noises were also reported in an earlier testimony by neighbour, Estelle van der Merwe.

Meanwhile, Roux said that was the night when sound tests were conducted at Pistorius's home, including the sound of a woman screaming. But Stipp said all he heard were two loud voices arguing.

Roux then returned to his original argument that the “shots” Stipp heard were the sound of Pistorius breaking down the bathroom door of his toilet after he had fired at it.

He also added that if the bathroom door and window were closed, the confined nature of the space would have prevented anyone from hearing Steenkamp's screams.

Roux said that, assuming Steenkamp was in the toilet, there would have been time to open the window, as that was how it was found after the incident.

Roux posited that Steenkamp may have opened the window to scream for help.

Stipp also told the court of how he arrived at Pistorius's home to check what was going.

Stipp had knelt down besides Steenkamp, and Pistorius had told him he shot her because he thought she was a burglar.

Roux said Pistorius remembers asking Stipp to help “save” his girlfriend.

Roux insisted that only four shots had been fired, in quick succession. He asked Stipp if the sounds that woke him were as rapid. Stipp said they were.

Stipp then said he heard a woman's screaming, intermingled with a man's shouting. He then heard three noises, but Roux was not interested in the time delay between them.

Stipp said he was under the impression that these second sounds were gunshots, but Roux said that it was common cause that there were only four shots fired.

Roux said that, even though Stipp was sure on the stand that he heard three shots upon waking up, his statement said he had heard “two to three” shots and this showed he was unsure about exactly what he had heard.

On re-examining Stipp, State prosecutor Gerrie Nel recounted what had been revealed of Pistorius's version of events that night.

According to Nel, before the shots, the accused shouted to the deceased that he thought there was an intruder, and Stipp had heard nothing before being woken by the shots.

Nel said the defence was trying to argue the second series of shots were the sound of a cricket bat hitting the bathroom door.

He then asked if it was possible for someone to wield a cricket bat and swing it at a door at the same speed as the shots Stipp heard.

Stipp said it would have been unlikely.

Stipp has been stood down and the court was adjourned.

[email protected]

The Star

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



sign up
 
 

Comment Guidelines



  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.