Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Oscar Pistorius: ‘I don’t remember what I’ve forgotten’

Oscar Pistorius
My first blog on the Pistorius trial, Who Put the Story in Pistorius? is here.

At this stage in the trial, we’re still left with more questions than answers. I pose some of these unanswered (and sometimes unasked) questions below. And I use quotes from the trial to try to investigate what’s really going on, what's really being said.

As Gerrie Nel has asked in many different ways: Why are there so many inconsistencies between what Oscar’s saying now and his bail application?

Oscar: ‘At certain times I didn’t feel I was in the wrong’/'Certain times I thought she was in the wrong’
Even when Oscar is trying to be even-handed about their disagreements, he still slips up and says that Reeva was in the wrong both times.

He won't ever admit that he lied, that he is telling a story. So he uses the word ‘whisper’ then denies he did even when it’s there in the trial transcript. (It’s a minor point to us but major to him because he believes a ‘soft tone’ would not require an answer but a whisper would – I’m not sure why.) He remains adamant. This tells us a lot about him. That he can lie and still swear he’s telling the truth to the court (remember he’s under oath for the duration of his testimony) over something so apparently insignificant might lead us to believe that he’s quite prepared to do the same on the bigger questions he’s asked.

If he ever owns to a fault, it’s always for something minor and he still manages to shift the real blame onto someone else. For instance, in the incident in the restaurant, his only error was to take a gun from a friend believing the friend would have ensured it was safe. In other words, it was the friend’s fault.

Reeva and Oscar
Misinformation 1
‘His alarm system wasn’t working properly’
This is an example of how lazy reporting can affect the actual content of the news. One Sky report actually began, rather misleadingly, with the words ‘His alarm system wasn’t working properly’ but this has never been established. It’s Oscar’s story that the last time painting was done, some sensors were removed temporarily but we have no evidence that this happened this time and only Oscar's word for it that he was worried – it’s just something the defence has brought up to support the intruder theory. So with the ladder. There was no ladder. How about Oscar’s dogs? Where were they? You would think that they’d bark once he started shouting.

Misinformation 2
Alex Crawford about a witness: ‘She realised her balcony doors were open and she wanted to close them because there had been security concern among them’.
The witness actually said that said that she usually had these doors open ‘in the summer’ and closed the doors that particular night to stop her dogs getting out onto the balcony. Only after hearing someone calling for help did she worry about any danger to herself. Do you see what’s happened here? Alex Crawford has backed up the ‘story’, the perception that the estate was somehow unsafe, that Oscar was right to grab a gun.

Misinformation 3
Jeremy Thompson: ‘Oscar … described the moment when he discovered he’d shot and killed his girlfriend’
This statement unwittingly implies his innocence. He should have said Oscar ‘described the moment when he claims he discovered he’d shot and killed his girlfriend’.

Oscar: ‘I don’t remember what I’ve forgotten’
This sounds obvious but is in fact about what Oscar claims to have remembered and forgotten and not funny at all. He appears to have a particularly virulent case of selective amnesia. On the one hand, he’s a stickler for accuracy and can come across as pedantic when he continually corrects Nel and I wish the latter had capitalised on this more – at first I thought he was, by making deliberate, silly mistakes just to see if Oscar would pick up on them, which he inevitably did but Nel doesn't ask how Oscar can have such perfect, detailed recall of some things and be so incredibly vague about others.

Oscar needs to listen to Judge Judy (Sheindlin): 'If you tell the truth, you don't have to have a good memory.'

Oscar and Martyn Rooney
Why is it that Oscar can remember certain details of the time when he was shot at on the road, where he turned off, parked etc. but not who he called to pick him up when he was too scared to drive himself? If this had really happened, wouldn’t the defence have appealed to that person to come forward?

How is it that all the corroborating witnesses to the other gun charges back each other up on the basics and only Oscar remembers them differently? Why would Sam Taylor and Darren Fresco lie? The only other witness is Martyn Rooney. Will he be asked to testify?

‘Nothing was normal about that night’
This is Oscar’s fallback position when his ‘story’ doesn’t make sense. Every time it’s put to him that his behaviour isn’t rational or normal, he says this and it’s hard to dispute.

Alex Crawford: ‘Oscar’ was ‘clearly so tired. He didn’t sleep last night. When they did adjourn, he sat down on the floor of the dock and he was just sobbing and his family all surrounded him’ with a psychologist described as ‘trying to comfort him as a mother would a child’. Talk about editorialising.
This portrays Oscar as the helpless, blameless, tortured victim of circumstance, someone we should have sympathy with. And happens to be exactly the image he wants to convey.

Crime scene
The night of ‘the accident’ (as Oscar likes to call it, or occasionally ‘incident’)
The bedroom
Was the bedroom door still locked? Where was the key? Could Reeva even get out of the bedroom or was escape to the bathroom her only option?

When Oscar claims he heard a noise, why didn’t he ask Reeva whether she heard it too? 
Maybe it's just me but I'm sure I would have said to my partner 'Did you hear that?'

Why wasn’t he bothered by the fact that she never replied to him even though he’s sure she was awake?

Plan of bedroom/bathroom
The bathroom
If we assume that there were no sounds of a break-in and we can assume that since there was no break-in, why did Oscar arm himself? Well, Oscar claims he heard a noise but he has to say that otherwise there's no reason to do any of it.

Then, as there was no intruder, how did witnesses hear a woman’s bloodcurdling screams? Because Reeva was terrified for her life, so terrified that she ran and locked herself in the toilet with her cellphone. I’m not sure whether they have shown the results of the voice tests yet as I only see what they show on the TV. They've recently had witnesses (friends of Oscar's - see how easy it is to make an inference?) claim that they heard a high-pitched male voice cry out. Interestingly, they only asked the female witness to replicate this, not the male one. And why was Oscar never asked to do this? Then, I’m convinced that these defence witnesses probably did hear Oscar but this was after he’d shot Reeva, after he’d supposedly ‘discovered’ this and run back to the balcony to call for help. Nel needs to establish the exact timing.

Why would an intruder break in, then lock themselves in the toilet? They wouldn’t.

If an intruder did break in only to lock themselves in the toilet, would you be scared of them? How much of a danger could they pose? Especially if you’re the one with the weapon.

Why didn’t Oscar fire a warning shot? He had the presence of mind to consider the possibility of a ricochet hurting him, but not to fire a warning shot.

Why did Reeva not tell Oscar where she was when he came into the bathroom shouting with a gun?

Oscar: ‘That’s where the firearm was pointed’ (removes himself from the equation)
This is said as if he had no control over the gun. He was pointing it at the door.

Why did Reeva take her cellphone and lock herself into the toilet?

Detective Botha
Detective Botha: ‘If the shots were fired in rapid sequence ... I think it's highly unlikely that she would have been able to call out'
We don't know whether the shots were fired rapidly or not. Either way, Oscar is in trouble. If he shot quickfire, he meant to kill whoever was behind the door. If there was a break between shots, he would have heard Reeva’s screaming and therefore known it was her before he went on to fire more shots. Either way you could say there was intent to kill.

Oscar: ‘If that was after the first shooting’
This implies there was a gap between the shots, time for him to stop and think, make a decision, hear Reeva scream.

Why did the defence introduce the double-tap theory if they were going to discount it later? Because they thought it would help their case then realised it didn’t.

Why have they changed their position on Reeva’s screams? First, they claimed Oscar wouldn’t be able to hear them because his ears were ringing from firing the gun. Now they seem to be saying that the shots were so quickfire that Reeva would not have had time to scream. The story keeps changing.

Two-handed grip
How did Oscar fire four shots with the resulting bullet holes so close together? He claims he fired one-handed but the result suggests  a two-handed grip. With the former, you’d expect the bullet holes to be more scattered.

It seems from his own testimony that as soon as he went back into the bedroom, Oscar realised he had shot Reeva so why didn’t he call for an ambulance at this stage?

Oscar: ‘I sat over Reeva and I cried’/I don't know how long I was there for’
Presumably until she was no longer breathing and couldn’t implicate him.

So, in fact, I have three questions here. 1 Why did Oscar call Johan Stander (who he called 'uncle' so this implies they were pretty close) rather than emergency services? 2 When he rang Stander instead, why didn’t Stander call emergency services as soon as he learned Reeva had been shot? (This makes me think they had to get together to initiate a cover-up or begin damage control.) And 3 Why didn’t Nel ask Stander question 2? It seems to me that Nel is being distracted by detail a little and is not seeing the wood for the trees but it might be that he did ask this and it just wasn't shown on TV. I hope so.

Reasonable doubt
The commentators are saying that the judge only has to believe that one factor in the police investigation was flawed for this to cast a reasonable doubt over Oscar’s guilt but this is not relevant to whether or not he shot and killed Reeva (we know he did this even if he is reluctant to admit culpability; he is not attempting to deny this) and has no bearing on his intent. Whether the police moved a gun or a cricket bat an inch or so is of no matter to the question of guilt. I’m worried that the judge will drown in the sea of red herrings Roux has created – his tactic. I hope that Nel will make it clear what can safely, with impunity, be disregarded when he comes to his summing up.

Llewellyn Curlewis
Llewellyn Curlewis, Sky’s legal expert: ‘It clearly creates a possible mitigating argument regarding remorse … . After so many emotional outbursts, any human being - including the judge - might accept he was remorseful for what transpired’.
I don’t see what this has to do with whether he’s innocent or guilty. Remorse might indicate guilt but I don't think we can automatically assume that he’s upset because he’s remorseful although I’d like to believe that was the reason. It could well be that he’s upset about the very difficult situation he now finds himself in. And I’m sure he regrets the fact that he was responsible for Reeva’s death and feels grief for her but this doesn’t mean that he didn’t intend to kill her. I don't see how his remorse could have any influence on the judge's verdict. Maybe on sentencing.

Oscar says that the weapon and ammunition are favoured by trail walkers in N. America as if it were common there. I’ve walked tons of trails in N. America and never even thought about taking a gun and I’ve never seen anyone else carrying one.

Is anyone else surprised by what is deemed as ‘evidence of an argument’ between Oscar and Reeva – blood and bullet holes? When I have an argument, the evidence might be an awkward silence or maybe a slammed door, not blood and bullet holes. I’d say it was a pretty major understatement to call this an argument.

Roger Dixon: ‘The instruments I used were my eyes’
I think the hapless Roger Dixon has been systematically dismantled as an ‘inexpert’ witness so will say no more except to highlight his quote above. A moment of light relief. It seems to me that he was trying to tell the truth, without realising that this would prejudice the defence case.

What we see is all filtered through the TV so the programme makers have a responsibility. It’s a matter of perception. If the presenters and experts perceive or choose to perceive a day in court a certain way, this is how it’s relayed to the public. Luckily, the judge will not be affected by any misrepresentation in the press.

Crime of passion
I think, like Sky’s legal expert, that Roux and Pistorius would have done much better to go for the crime of passion defence. Then, all Oscar’s previous reckless incidents with guns could actually be used to back up their case. They would reinforce that he was a trigger-happy hot-head who rushed headlong into trouble rather than trying to avoid it. With this in mind, they would do well to support the prosecution’s stand that he was so easily spooked that he was liable to go into ‘Code Red’ or combat mode over the noise of a washer-dryer.

So what really happened? I think that Oscar was annoyed that Reeva had met up with her ex a couple of days before Valentine’s Day. Maybe he discerned that she’d discussed their relationship with him. From all accounts, he was insecure, prone to jealousy, controlling and likely to fly off the handle. Perhaps she lost her desire to continually placate him, evident in texts like this ‘Please let me know when I can talk to you’ and decided at some point during the course of the night that their relationship would not work. Maybe this all built up into a terrible argument. As he admits, Reeva was not afraid to stand up for herself. But she didn’t expect that their quarrel would turn violent. I think he chased her in an uncontrollable rage.

What astounds me is that Oscar Pistorius wants to come out of this as a misguided hero who loved his girlfriend and only wanted to protect her from harm. And what might astound me more is that he might just get away with it.

You have to ask yourself why no one else’s version of events matches Oscar’s. And the answer could be that his is a completely manufactured scenario.

Reeva Steenkamp - Rest in Peace

Oscar’s neighbour on meeting Reeva Steenkamp for the first time: ‘I raised my hand to greet her and she just opened her arms’
Here's the full quote: ‘The thing that really struck me about her and I don't think I’ll ever forget that moment. I raised my hand to greet her and she just opened her arms. She just came and hugged me.’
I don't think I need to add anything to this – it’s a simple testament to how warm and open she was.


  1. Excellent summary & analysis. I too, have found Oscar Pistorius' version of events to be nowhere near reasonably possibly true from his bail application onward. His defense (or lack thereof) has only solidified my belief. Thank you for being so candid, clear & concise. How do I find you on Twitter? I'm @SanityCheek.

    1. Thanks for reading & commenting. I'm @evelyncolleen.

  2. A comment on another forum raised this question: If this was a fiction novel, how long would you carry on reading before putting the book down and saying "What a load of hogwash?" Another comment with regard to Oscar phoning Stander..."Dr Stipp messed things up by appearing at the scene because Oscar phoned Stander so that they could dispose of the body!" The Prosecution and Defence have to summarise all the so called evidence into an "argument" at the end of the trial. Apparently they also argue against each other and these "arguments" together with the court transcripts and assessors notes have to be consolidated by the judge. The judge then has to make her decision, with reasons, why she favours one version/explanation over the other and then she makes her decision. The judge has my greatest sympathy in trying to make sense of all of this!

  3. Again, thanks. Very true about the novel – or if you made a film, it would definitely stretch credibility. We'd be saying 'Who wrote this rubbish?' but I still know people who say 'It's so outlandish, it must be true'. Yes – it does look like Oscar’s friends were called to participate in a cover-up. No one called emergency till they absolutely had to. And it seems pretty callous to have the sister there collecting watches … who called her?

  4. I found it reassuring to read this blog. Sometimes I despair over the irresponsible reporting that supports th BS that is contained in Oscar Pistorius's testimony as well as his Defence. Pistorius comes from a powerful and very wealthy family despite his Defence playing the 'poor Oscar grew up disadvantaged' when actually, the reverse is true. This is a case of the rich & powerful trying to get away with murder. Remember also that his brother Carl got off after having killed a motor cyclist. Money talks. But can money make a whore out of the Law? Please God I hope not! All is lost if we cannot rely on an incorruptible Legal System.

    1. Thanks for your comments. Well, the fact that the mental assessors have concluded that OP was not suffering from any disorder at the time of the shooting has given me hope as I really believed that this was an easy way out for the judge, the law, Oscar, everyone but Reeva and her family. My faith has been restored, a little. Certainly, watching it in the UK, I’m astonished by the fact that the reporters never really question anything, they’re happy to take Oscar’s word for it and are pretty chummy with his family, emphasising his family’s suffering over that of Reeva’s. How can they compare the two?

  5. Very interesting questions and good read. I might have missed it, but can someone please shed some light on the 5th phone? The one not recovered from the scene and only handed in by the defence team a few days later? OP's version is most likely concocted and made up along the way, but unfortunately the State has it all to do to prove it is murder. Without any smoking gun evidence, that will be pretty difficult. I am also not sure you can pronounce a guilty verdict just because the accused version is riddled with holes.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I hadn’t even heard about the fifth phone. It seems to me that so many things are falling through the cracks, because there's been no systematic investigation of the evidence by defence or prosecution, and that one of these is the fact there never was any intruder for Oscar to get so distressed about. Perhaps the missing phone might shed some light on motive – although I think that OP was a loose cannon anyway, likely to react violently without thinking. I want to know why they mentioned bullet holes in the bedroom, blood on the headboard as evidence of a quarrel (I’ll say) but then never really explored this. The judge only seems to ask an irrelevant question every now and then, rather than following up on these points. Will she get a chance to do this later?