News

JeVanne Gibbs
1 minute read
17 Apr 2014
9:00 am

Has prosecutor succeeded in proving murder-accused Pistorius’s intent to kill?

JeVanne Gibbs

Whether State Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has succeeded in proving murder-accused Oscar Pistorius's intent to kill after the Paralympian finished his testimony this week is not yet clear.

FILE PICTURE: Prosecutor Gerrie Nel questions a forensic expert at the high court in Pretoria during the murder trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius on Wednesday, 16 April 2014. Pistorius says that he accidentally killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp by firing through a closed toilet door, mistaking her for an intruder in his house before dawn on 14 February 2013. The prosecution says the double-amputee runner is lying, and that he killed his girlfriend after an argument during which she fled into the toilet cubicle of his house to seek refuge. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA/Pool

Wits School of Law Professor James Grant said Nel had, however, succeeded in showing Pistorius was considering the implications of his testimony. “The accuracy of the detail was highlighted by Nel, who asked the same question from various angles to reveal inconsistencies. This was clear, with Pistorius not being able to explain certain things in his testimony,” said Grant. “A few contradictions were evident.”

Nel’s cross-examination of Pistorius ended on Tuesday after five brutal days that saw the Paralympian continuously break- ing down and crying.

Nel said he had no further questions after presenting the prosecution’s case that Pistorius was lying in his account.

Professor Karthy Govender, a professor of law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said any judge would look at whether the accused’s explanation of what transpired at the time of the murder was reasonably true or not. “His examination included testing if Pistorius’s version was improbable,” said Govender. “What is next is calling witnesses to the stand to try and prove that there is any reasonable doubt.”

On Tuesday Pistorius claimed he heard the magazine rack moving in the bathroom before he fired the shots.

Nel countered by showing the court a photo of the cubicle with one leg of the rack in a pool of blood – with no smear marks on the floor.

Wits Centre for Ethics director Professor Lucy Allais said Nel’s cross-examination should be judged by the standards of a court of law.

“Nel’s job is to prosecute Pistorius for the extremely serious charge of murder. Harsh probing does not, therefore, seem to me to be inappropriate,” she said.