Reeva’s grisly blood trailComment on this story
Pretoria - Two drops of blood on a fawn chair. Blood spatters on a couch and on a pillar near the base of a staircase not far from where Reeva Steenkamp’s body lay.
The blood spatters lead him (former police colonel Giliam Schoombie van Rensburg) up the stairs covered with droplets of blood. More blood at the staircase wall, blood smudges on the stairway rail, on the tiles, on the walls, everywhere.
Leaning against the bedroom door is an air gun, near a cabinet full of Oakley sunglasses.
In the bedroom, a fan stands next to the sliding door – perhaps one of the two Oscar Pistorius said he was taking inside from the balcony when he heard a noise from the toilet, driving him into a panic.
A box with eight wristwatches with blood stains atop a cabinet along with two cellphones – it’s not clear if these are the same watches defence advocate Barry Roux SC told the court went missing.
Testifying in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday, Van Rensburg paged through pictures taken of the February 14 scene last year in Pistorius’s Silverwoods Country Estate home.
Images are shown of blood spatters on a duvet cover on the floor, a pair of slippers are on the left side of the bed, opposite a couch with an overnight bag on it.
On the bedside table is a holster – this is where Samantha Taylor, a former girlfriend of the athlete, testified he kept his gun at night.
But Pistorius’s version is that on that fateful night he had slept on the right side of the bed because of an injury and kept his gun under the bed.
His slain girlfriend had been sleeping on the left side that night before he mistook her for an intruder and pumped four bullets through the locked toilet door – hitting her three times – in the head, hip and arm. A bullet also hit her middle finger.
Realising the person he had shot at was his girlfriend, Pistorius said he had raced to the bedroom to put on his prosthetic legs so he could kick open the door.
He had then gone back to the bedroom to fetch a cricket bat so he could bash the door open.
Moving from the bedroom to the bathroom, along the passage leading to the bathtub where there is a neatly placed red and black vanity case, there are wooden splinters.
Right next to the bathtub there’s an empty cartridge, surrounded by blood spatters.
Then Van Rensburg points out the bloodied bat near blood-stained crumpled towels, an empty cartridge, a gun, a black iPhone and a white Samsung phone.
Van Rensburg testified that the firearm was cocked. “As it lay there, it was ready to be fired. You must just pull the trigger,” he said.
Desiree Myers turns her gaze away from the TV screens in court. There’s too much blood. Her eyes are red.
One of the women next to her, Steenkamp’s friend, wipes tears and blows her nose.
Pistorius had earlier been infuriated when pictures of Steenkamp’s body were shown during a short adjournment as the State went about removing “sensitive pictures” before Van Rensburg’s testimony and pictures were beamed on the screens.
Pistorius ducked his head and placed his hands over his ears when another close-up picture of a bloodied Steenkamp was shown on the screen – again during the tale-end of SAPS forensic expert Colonel Johannes Vermeulen’s evidence.
His sister Aimee had walked up to him with a pack of tissues and wet wipes.
The TV screen in front of him was unplugged.
But the athlete could see images on other screens around him. Continuing with his evidence, Van Rensburg explained that he had initially not seen the white cellphone. It was later pointed out by the police photographer at the scene.
On the toilet door hung the key – from the outside of the toilet as he (Pistorius) had taken the key through the gap in the door he had bashed, and opened it from the outside.
Van Rensburg was the first police officer to arrive at Pistorius’s home.
“On arrival there was an ambulance outside. Inside the house by the stairs there was a person’s body covered with towels and black bags.
“Blood could be seen. There was a paramedic. She approached me, saying the person was already dead on their arrival.
“There was a head wound, wound on the waist, on the arm… middle finger,” he told the court.
In the kitchen was a woman unknown to him consoling a “very emotional” Pistorius.
He asked the Paralympian what had happened.
He got no answer. “I asked him what happened, but he did not answer. He just cried.”
Instead, Pistorius continued to cry, pacing the aisle of his kitchen.
Van Rensburg, who was commander of the Boschkop police station in Pretoria East at the time, said the woman consoling Pistorius introduced herself as Clarice Stander.
A lawyer, she is the daughter of the security manager at the Silverwoods Country Estate, Johan Stander. Johan is the first person Pistorius said he had called.
Having spoken briefly to Stander, who had used black plastic bags to try to stop the bleeding, Van Rensburg summoned fingerprint experts, photographers and the initial officer to investigate the matter – Warrant Officer Hilton Botha.
He ordered an officer to secure the scene, “ensure no one went in or out”, then, with Botha, he followed the blood trail up the stairs.
His first stop was at an entertainment area upstairs, where there was an unused jacuzzi.
As there was no blood, Van Rensburg turned back and went down the passage, towards the main bedroom. There were blood spatters on the otherwise clean tiles, leading to the bedroom.
Pictures also depicted an open bathroom window. A photo of the door showed some of the wooden panels that had been bashed in and the key in the keyhole, on the outside of the door.
Van Rensburg is expected to be back on the witness stand on Friday.