The Black Vest – Where is the Bullet Hole? 4

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In this post we are going to take you step by step through an analytic process to confirm one of our key findings – that the black vest that Reeva wore when she was found downstairs, had she worn it in the toilet, would have hanged down to below where the bullet hit her in the hip. That then leads to the very legitimate question that demands an answer – where is the corresponding hole in the vest? It is not there – why not?

Afterwards please decide for yourself if a person requires a qualification in “forensic science” to follow the steps outlined below.

Let’s start by looking at official police photos of the black vest.


IMG_0367 IMG_0371


There are clearly no holes towards the bottom of the vest.

The next logical question is whether the vest would have been long enough to hang over where Reeva was hit with a bullet – point 4.5 in the figure below from the official autopsy report?


The fist step here is to determine the length of the vest. From the photo on the right using the scale it is a simple matter in a graphics package like InDesign to determine the distance from the top of the shoulder strap to the bottom of the vest to be about 66 cm.

The next step is to look at Reeva’s height and where the bullet hit her.

According to the autopsy report Reeva was 175 cm tall. And also according to the autopsy report the bullet hit Reeva at distance of 92 cm from the base of the right heel.

The next parameter we need is the distance between the top of Reeva’s head to her shoulders. We don’t know the precise distance as it was never measured. So that leave two different approaches – measure the distance from a person as tall as Reeva, and/or look at anthropometric data.


What is Anthropometric Data?

Image from NASA

Anthropometry is a branch of anthropology concerned with comparative measurements of the human body and its parts as well as the variables which impact these measurements. Anthropometric data consists of collections of measurements, often presented in tabular format or annotated diagrams of human figures. The primary dimensions measured are of bone, muscle, and adipose tissue. This data is used in human factors/ergonomics applications in order to ensure that designs and standards are realistic.

The following data was obtained from:


The distance that we are looking for is the difference between between A and C for a woman about 1.75 m tall. That would be last column in the table. A – C = 1.724 – 1.441 = 0.283 m ~ 28 cm. This distance is fairly constant across the board – for male and females – irrespective of their height – ranging from 28 cm to 31 cm.

Now it is simple mathematics to calculate the distance between the shoulder to the bullet wound = 175 – 92 – 28 = 55 cm.

Therefore one doesn’t have to be a forensic expert to come to the conclusion that the vest being 66 cm long – would have hanged quite a bit lower than the bullet wound – by about 11 cm. Even if we subtract 5 cm for the rounding of the bust – we still have have the vest hanging below by about 6 cm.

In our book we also show other reasons why Reeva did not wear the vest during the shooting incident, such as the shrapnel wounds on her chest that is not compatible with the holes/rents in the vest. The rents/holes are too big and too many and their position is not compatible with the position of the wounds. There are also too little blood on the vest to suggest that she had it on her body when she sustained the open wounds. This would suggest that the rents were made before Reeva entered the toilet. In our book we look at a possible reason, that may also explain the severely abraded right nipple.


Just a thought on the concept “forensic expert”. It is an overdramatized term, born from people watching too much CSI.

This link explains very well what we have always said. You can be an expert in your own field and then APPLY your own qualifications, experience, knowledge and skills in the forensic field.…/Studying_Forensic_Science.pdf

Here is a paragraph from the above link:

“A true forensic scientist does not really exist in South Africa.


Our approach in the University is based on the definition of a forensic scientist who is ‘a scientist in one of the disciplines of science who applies his or her knowledge to ‘forensic cases’. This means that you are FIRST a chemist, anthropologist, pathologist, engineer, psychiatrist (with an appropriate post-graduate degree) and only after that do you use your knowledge in forensic cases. In our view, such people are primarily researchers rather than applied forensic technicians.”















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4 thoughts on “The Black Vest – Where is the Bullet Hole?

  • Apricot

    The pictures of Reeva by the stairs show the vest all bunched up so it’s impossible to deduce it’s fit from that. I also think comparing yourself wearing a vest to Reeva is unhelpful since you are a man wearing a man’s vest. Female vests are different as they’re fitted. They are not designed to hang down – you would need to specifically smooth it down over the hips, it wouldn’t do that naturally. Having said that, the picture of her in the car does seem to show very narrow straps and a low neckline – nothing like the one held up by the police after her death. So maybe that was Pistorius’s. They were definitely his shorts and black vests are ten a penny so, actually, I don’t think it’s a coincidence too far that she’d wear two black vests that day…hers and his. If she was wearing his, that would hang down because it wouldn’t be fitted.

    But in any event, there are just too many variables to say….”It WOULD have hung down, therefore where’s the bullet hole?” People simply don’t walk around in neatly arranged clothing all the time, certainly not in the middle of the night during a probably violent altercation. At best, it’s curious – but there are too many potential explanations.

    The bigger, and as you say, more important argument is the mismatch of holes and number/positions of wounds but this assumes that all the holes were made the same way: they were all either from fragments OR they were all from Pistorius yanking at the shirt during a fight. One could have been caused by a bullet fragment piercing the vest and her skin, while the others could have been from a fight.

    So all you really need to ask is where on the vest is the hole that should have been made when the chest wound happened and I am amazed that you think there should be a perfectly aligned hole! She was not wearing steel armour…it was a vest made from relatively thin material and material MOVES! Wounds on her stomach area could have exactly the same explanation as the lack of a hole in the hip area…that the vest was pulled up. And if it was, then the vest on her upper body could have swivelled slightly and yes, moved up and down as her arms go up and down. Not to mention that if her vest already had large holes from the fight a bullet fragment could have gone straight through one without touching the vest at all.

    The biggest problem, though, is where is all the blood that you think should have been on the vest? Did she have a very bloody torso when the police removed the vest? If so, then Saayman would have to have made a note of that because part of his job was to determine all circumstances surrounding the death…and the victim was apparently naked given all the blood on her skin would be a pretty major finding. And yet we’ve heard nothing of the sort.

    I agree that we should be careful to assume anything about Pistorius’s behaviour that night….but he only had a very narrow amount of time to redress her. He was heard crying and shouting “help” within minutes of the shooting, running downstairs & opening the door etc. Reeva was also apparently still alive (in the clinical sense of the word) when he brought her downstairs because there were arterial spurts on thr stair walls.

    This means that when he pulled the vest back on her….remembering in his panic to turn it the right way round….the blood would not have congealed significantly yet and would still a) be very wet and b) spurting a bit. So where is all the blood from very new, catastrophic wounds to her head, arm and hip on the vest? I would say that it is a matter of common sense that you cannot manipulate a shattered arm with a severed artery through the arm of a vest without saturating the material. Not to mention pulling it over a head half of which has brain matter protruding.

    You raise valuable and important points, no question, and I am really, really glad that you have written this book. Reeva does deserve for someone to come out fighting for her and you are asking the questions that should have been asked at the trial. So please don’t see my comments as argumentative for the sake of it….a hypothesis is worth nothing if it cannot stand up to a challenge.

    And I will read your book.

  • Apricot

    I am genuinely not convinced by this argument.

    Firstly, looking at the one picture we have of Reeva wearing the vest (in the car) it appears to be fairly tight fitting….not loose & baggy. There’s no reason to suppose that it was hanging down as far as it would go. The bottom could easily have settled around her hips…or even be very slightly tucked into the shorts. We also don’t know where her arms were when she was shot in the hip. If they were up this would have raised the vest higher. If she’d been grabbed by the vest from behind by Pistorius during a struggle, this could have raised the neckline at the front higher and therefore the shirt. Whatever was going on, it was phsyical. Therefore, I think it equally as likely that the vest was slightly bunched up (and therefore above the hip wound) than that it was neatly pulled down as far as it would go.

    As far as blood around that area…the initial blood and debris would surely follow the bullet. Momentum and all that. The bullet hit Reeva’s hip and proceeded on to the wall…and that’s where most of the blood went. Certainly some would have spattered up, but not enough to drench. Then she was down on the magazine rack, gravity would have taken over and the blood would have flowed downwards.

    As far as blood from the headwound, again, the position of her head and hair could have had the blood flowing directly down bypassing the shoulder area almost entirely.

    I do agree that the hole in the vest does seem to align with her nipple and so they are most likely connected. I am not sure where the leap to “he must have pulled it off” comes from. Why?

    And if it was pulled off and she was naked from the waist up when he shot her, why exactly did he need to put it back on her? His story was that she got out of bed to go to the loo….nakedness is actually more consistent with that. It has always struck me as decidedly odd that these two “lovebirds” went to bed on a very hot night fully dressed.

    Putting a vest top back on the body of an unconcious woman with multiple, heavily bleeding wounds would not be easy…and is highly likely to end up with blood all over it. And yet your objection stems from the fact that there’s not much blood. If it was pulled over her head, arms manipulated back through the holes (one of which was shattered with a severed artery) then blood would have been everywhere. And yet it’s not.

    I think Pistorius probably did yank her jeans off that night…so he has form. But she managed to redress herself in shorts after that so was there a second undressing attempt? And the vest would have come off inside out…so in his panicked state did he remember to turn it the right way before putting it back on her?

    Honestly…it all seems a reach.

    The cricket bat is very interesting. There is definitely saturation on the handle which is not explained by spray as she moves her body past it. He gripped that with a bloody hand, I am certain…and that does not fit into his version at all. It does, however, fit with my personal theory that the door was never locked and he prised out the panel when he went upstairs to get Reeva’s handbag to shore up the fiction he was coming up with. I have puzzled over why Reeva was standing angled towards the door handle when he shot her. If she was desperately holding the door closed, that’s exactly where she’d be.

    Just my own thoughts.

    • Thomas Mollett

      Hi Apricot

      Firstly, this is a good example of where it is good to follow the whole argument a set out in in the book as it is supported within more context and with more graphics. However, shortly:

      When we look at three different photos of Reeva below the stairs with the vest on, the vest certainly seems to be sitting more loosely on her body than tightly. We also took this into account. I don’t think one can deduce too much from the photos in the Mini as she arrived at the gate. Her arms are stretched forward and part of what we see there may be the seatbelt too. Oscar actually said she wore “his clothing” which may suggest another black vest but we considered that it would be too much of a coincidence that she would arrive in a black vest only to be found in another black vest a few hours later, and therefore reasonably accepted that it is the same vest. But based on the photos of her lying downstairs, the vest is certainly not sitting tightly on her.

      I am exactly the same height as Reeva and tested various ±66 cm items of clothing on my body. In fact the very sleeveless fleece top I’m wearing at the very moment is also ±66 cm long and is hanging comfortably over my waist. I am about 10 kg heavier than Reeva and has a “boep” (big tummy) so the rounding of the bust does not make a huge difference and even her breasts would not make much difference. Her upper body is smaller/thinner than mine and a 66 cm vest is hanging well over my waist.

      Even lifting up your arms does not make huge difference, and while shrugging up shoulder may lift the vest somewhat, it would not be that much. And even if one consider this to be possible, is this reasonable to expect? Why would she do this? Maybe not impossible, but not necessarily reasonable to expect (on whoever’s version). Yes, the vest may have been pulled back before she entered the toilet but it will restore to a normal position quickly when moving around.

      Saying this, even if we accept for the moment that he vest was pulled up to above the waist line for whatever reason, it still does not take away the bigger point we’re making here. This is only one part of the issue. The biggest problem for the vest is the so called fragment wound on her chest, just off the midline of her chest under the right breast. Where is the hole in the vest for this wound? The rents (I call them “rents” because they are tears and not holes per se) on the right side of the vest is too far to the right and there are too many rents (“holes”) for this one principle wound. The rents consist of at least two big tears, both being too large for the chest wound, and then some smaller tears. All in all too many “holes” for the one wound on the chest. (There are some much smaller wounds around the principle wound but for ease of reference I use “one wound” as the others are negligible for the argument, but I deal briefly with them further below.)

      The chest wound is only about 1 cm in dm, but the rents are much bigger. The principle is: How can one fragment make one wound on the skin but make two or more (larger, one being more than 2 cm in dm) holes in the vest?

      Then we get fine wounds around the one principle chest wound and two on the lower stomach. There is no evidence of these fragments having gone through the vest – and hard to imagine that such wounds could have been made through a vest (made from a thickish material) by such very fine fragments/splinters.
      In short, there are too many “holes” for the number of wounds on the body and they do not align – and we have holes where there are no wounds. The hip wound is only one part of this argument and maybe even the lesser one.

      Reeva had a HUGE exit wound (big open/flaring wound of about 4 cm x 2 cm) on the inside right arm and this would have deposited blood on the vest in that area as it HAD to rub against the vest at some stage. We see no significant blood there. The head wound would have bled profusely in the first moments and one can reasonably expect more blood on the vest if she had it on during the incident.

      One can argue about how difficult it would be to put such a vest on an unconscious or dead person but this does not diminish the fact that the holes in the vest and the wounds are simply not compatible. I don’t think it would that difficult, bring the dead person (because she was dead soon) to a sitting position and maneuver the vest over. Yes, one would still expect blood being smeared on the vets but imo this happened a bit later and the bleeding would be less (and more congealed) than during and just after the incident. On photos we can’t see that well on the inside of the vest.

      Why would he do that? I always caution anybody to try and explain other’s behaviour in abnormal situations but it may be to bring some “dignity” to the situation, rather than leaving her laying half naked downstairs, put something over her. It would look better for him. But again, we can speculate about this, the point is, the defects in the vest (holes/rents) are too many for the number of wounds and they do not align. And they are too big for the wounds on the body.

      You ask about “why pulling”. Imagine a person wearing a vest and wanted to get away from another person who is now grabbing and holding tightly on the vest. There is a scuffle, hence and forth pulling on the vest and abrasion happens (in the case on the nipple on the other side of the rough material). The area of the rents is compatible with a hand’s size and is in the area where abrasion on the nipple could then be expected. The tears/rents are consistent with torn material due to stretching (i.e. type of rents you would get on sport clothing).

      That freshly abraded nipple did not just fall out of the sky, something caused it and certainly could not have happened in the toilet. The rents in that area of the vest (and right breast) seems reasonably reconcilable.