Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
24 Aug 2013
8:00 am

Oscar’s case rests on his own words

Ilse de Lange

Prominent lawyer and academic Llewelyn Curlewis believes paralympian Oscar Pistorius' case will rest on his own evidence and how he fares under cross-examination by the State.

Oscar Pistorius appears at the Magistrate Court in Pretoria on August 19, 2013. Pistorius appeared on charges of murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, Valentine's Day. AFP PHOTO / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

Pistorius will go on trial in the High Court in Pretoria in March next year on charges of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day and the illegal possession of ammunition.

According to the summary of facts forming part of the indictment, some of the state witnesses heard a woman scream, followed by moments of silence, then heard gunshots and then more screaming.

Pistorius told witnesses on the scene he thought she was an intruder.


PICTURE SUPPLIED: Reeva Steenkamp. (Ice Model Management)

PICTURE SUPPLIED: Reeva Steenkamp. (Ice Model Management)


Curlewis said Pistorius had revealed his defence from the outset, as is evident from the proceedings in the bail application. “Self-defence and/or emergency are not a unique defences, it’s been used many times in the past. He can’t depart from it now.

“In South African law it is tes-ted on the basis that one may not use more violence than necessary to defend yourself. You must use every other possible measure rather than to shoot. Shooting must be your last resort.

“His case will rest on his evidence and how strong he stands in cross-examination. Only he can tell the court what happened,” says Curlewis.

“There are recognised principles for self-defence and/or emergency and the court will have to test his version against those principles. Unlawfulness as well as guilt is in dispute as elements of the crimes mentioned in the charge sheet.”

Pistorius says he acted in self-defence and/or emergency, so the question of intention and negligence arises.

“There are three forms of intention. One is direct intention to kill, the other is indirect intention to kill and the third category is where you foresee that death may result, but nevertheless proceed to act. Even if you didn’t act with the intention to kill and the state proves just 1% negligence, you’re still guilty of culpable homicide.

“I don’t know why the state wants to call over 100 witnesses,” he says.

“I predict that the defence will admit most of the facts in the case, which probably will exclude most of the so-called chain evidence. His case will ultimately rest on his own evidence.”