Roux traces cops’ steps at crime scene

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barry roux mar 14

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Defence advocate Barry Roux is seen on day 10 of Oscar Pistorius's murder trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Pretoria - Defence advocate Barry Roux's cross-examination of former Colonel Giliam Vermeulen continued with him asking how many others were in the house when Oscar Pistorius was told he would be arrested as a suspect.

Vermeulen, one of the first officers on the scene, said there were many.

Roux continued to question if the scene had been tampered with, and asked whether former chief investigator Hilton Botha and Van Rensburg had separated at any point.

Van Rensburg admitted there were some periods where he could not see Botha, who was doing other work.

The defence was trying to establish which investigators were at the scene, and exactly where they were throughout the initial probe.

Van Rensburg told the court of how he, Botha and a crime scene photographer had first examined the bedroom.

First, they took photos of the scene, untouched. Then they began searching, opening up the duvet on the floor and looking through the bedside tables.

Roux said he was trying to determine what had been disturbed in the room.

He said that as experienced police officers, they were not supposed to interfere with the scene prior to the forensics team.

He said after the team arrived, he simply watched them work.

Later that day, police ensured the scene was sealed including all the doors and windows, and even fed the two dogs.

He said on that day he had only seized the holster and the magazine of bullets that were found in the main bedroom.

Roux then made Van Rensburg point out any of the major differences in his two written statements.

Only a few minor discrepancies emerged, such as the addition of the plastic bags covering Reeva Steenkamp's body used to try and stop the bleeding and the colour of the towels found in the bathroom.

Pistorius's state differed only slightly between the two statements, from “emotional” to “very emotional”.

Roux had told the court that Van Rensburg was brought to testify to cover ground that should be covered by Botha.

This would ensure the State would not have to call Botha to the stand, who would be open to attack because of numerous reports of the police's bungling of the investigation - even from Van Rensburg's earlier testimony.

Van Rensburg and Botha have both since resigned from the SA Police Service.

Roux said Van Rensburg had said in his statement he had followed a trail of blood spots up to the bathroom and went downstairs alone, while during his testimony he had said they had gone together.

Botha's statement said that Pistorius had been in the garage when he arrived. Roux argued that Van Rensburg had said in his testimony that he and Botha had left Pistorius in the kitchen when heading upstairs.

Van Rensburg insisted they went together, but Roux continued to point out the inconsistencies between his version and Botha's.

Another constable had also stated that he went upstairs as well, which Van Rensburg said he couldn't believe.

“Amazing, he wasn't there before me,” he said.

The other officer, a warrant officer Sibeko also said in his statement he had only found Van Rensburg upstairs who pointed out the scene.

Van Rensburg said that Sibeko's statement had to be based on hearsay, and was not accurate.

He invited the court to use police vehicle tracking data to prove who arrived on the scene and when.

Roux then attacked Van Rensburg’s observational abilities.

He showed him two images of the front door and the police tape sealing the entrance of the house.

“This is not an observation test,” said Roux. He showed him an image of the keys used to lock the front door and asked him to identify how many keys were visible.

He then showed another image where more keys were visible, prompting questions around security of these keys that could allow anyone to access the home.

Roux said that Van Rensburg's observations of the scene are how the court understands the investigation.

Van Rensburg then said some of the photos were taken after certain aspects of the scene, such as the towels, had been moved for investigative purposes.

The trial continues.

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The Star

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