Reeva death scene broke me, says cop
Pretoria - The Reeva Steenkamp death scene was simply too much for a Pretoria policeman to endure and he turned to the high court in Pretoria in a bid to force the SAPS to place him on medical pension.
“I can still remember the distinct smell of death at the front door and today I can still taste blood in my mouth. This incident haunts me day and night, it controls my dreams and I can’t seem to make it go away.”
This is according to Warrant Officer Morné du Toit, one of the official police photographers who was called to the crime scene at the Silverwoods Country Estate on Valentine’s Day 2013 after Oscar Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend Reeva.
This scene was the last straw for the already traumatised policeman, who had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder by that time. He was diagnosed more than two years before he visited the bloody scene on Bushwillow Street.
Du Toit, a policeman with more than 20 years’ experience, said he had seen many bloody scenes in his career. He witnessed mutilated bodies and people dying. It all became too much for him, but the scene at Pistorius’s home made him realise he could not stand being a policeman any longer.
“My traumatic past in the SAPS and this incident on February 14, 2013, triggered my present medical condition. I simply cannot proceed with my career within the police any longer,” Du Toit said in court papers .
He was admitted to the Eugene Marais Hospital for major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder three weeks after Reeva’s death and he has not been back at work since.
He had already been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in November 2010 and placed on sick leave by a psychologist.
He applied for ill-health retirement, but the SAPS declined this and said he would be placed in an administrative post.
He was instead posted to the directorate of priority crime investigations.
His former psychiatrist died and three days before he was called to the crime scene where Reeva was killed, another psychiatrist took over his case.
Du Toit said on the morning of the Reeva killing he was called to go and take pictures of the crime scene.
“I started taking pictures in the bathroom on the top floor where the victim was shot in the toilet. I took pictures in the toilet, the bullet holes through the toilet door and the blood splatters in the bathroom. I went to the main bedroom and followed the bloody trail downstairs to the front door.
“At the front door was a pile of towels, soaked in blood. All the walls from the main bedroom to the front door had blood splatters. The smell of death was prominent at the front door. I still remember the scene very clearly.
“I have continuous dreams of lying in a bath of blood. These thoughts flash through my mind… it haunts me and keeps me awake.”
Du Toit re-applied for ill-health retirement two months after witnessing the scene at Pistorius’s home. This was granted but subsequently withdrawn after the SAPS claimed he did other work for which he got paid while on medical leave.
Du Toit denied he did other work without the permission of the SAPS and said investigations into these allegations came to nothing, yet the SAPS persisted in denying him medical pension.
The application was removed from the roll to enable the police to answer Du Toit’s allegations.
No date has been set for the next hearing.