Lately there has been extensive media coverage on our book Oscar vs The Truth (OVTT). What started as an article in the Daily Maverick quickly went viral and reached newspapers and media websites from countries all across the globe. These reports and articles primarily focused on two areas of evidence we cover in the book – that the wounds on Reeva’s back were likely inflicted by the cricket bat before she fled to the toilet – and secondly, that Reeva likely wasn’t wearing the black vest when she was shot. However, if you read our book you will quickly realize that these are not the only evidence we present that there was an argument between Oscar and Reeva. In this post we will put all the evidence before you – it is important not to look at areas of evidence in isolation – one has to consider the whole picture.
Lets paint that picture:
The State’s argument was that Oscar and Reeva had an argument and that this argument escalated to Oscar intentionally shooting Reeva after she fled and locked herself in a toilet. The defence in turn argued that the evidence presented by the State in favour of an argument did not meet the burden of proof. In the end the court sided with the defence.
Mrs Estelle van der Merwe testified that from about 02:00 she heard the voice of a woman as if she was arguing with someone.
M’Lady I woke up around 01:56 in the morning. I heard sounds, it seems like somebody was involved in a fight and this people were talking in loud voices M’Lady. It lasted for about an hour. I could not hear what this person was saying. I also could not understand in what language this person was talking. (Page 159, lines 1–4)
These sounds caused her to:
- Feel irritated
- Feel concern about lack of sleep
- To bury her head under a pillow
- To get up to see if could see where the sound came from.
Nel: Madam let us carry on. You said it lasted for about an hour, that is what you said. Before you go on, how did you experience it? What did you do? — M’Lady I was irritated by that because I was supposed to sleep, seeing that my boy was supposed to sit for his exams shortly.
Yes. So you say you were irritated by it and what did you do? — At some stage I placed a pillow on top of my head, either hope of falling asleep once more, or again M’Lady. At some stage I woke up, being under the impression that I want to see if there is something that I could see. I looked out to the other side of Farm Inn. I still could not see anything M’Lady. I then went back to bed again. Around about 03:00 in the morning I heard four gunshots M’Lady. (Page 159, lines 8–20)
The defence argued that Mrs van der Merwe evidence is not sufficient evidence that there was an argument between Oscar and Reeva.
165. The State alleges that there was an argument between the Accused and the Deceased, which preceded and resulted in the shooting. The State contends that the “argument” was overheard by Mrs van der Merwe (Record 1941, lines 19–20).
166. Mrs Van der Merwe’s evidence does not prove the existence of an argument, still less does her evidence justify the inference, as the only reasonable inference, excluding all other reasonable inferences, that there was an argument between the Accused and the Deceased, which preceded and gave rise to the shooting.
Judge Masipa found in favour of the defence:
2. That Mrs van der Merwe had no idea where the voice came from, what language was being spoken or what was being said. Accordingly, there is nothing in the evidence of Mrs van der Merwe that links what sounded like an argument to her to the incident at the house of the accused. What is of significance, however, is that Mr Peter Baba, the security guard, was near the house of the accused at 02:20 on patrol. There is no evidence that Mr Baba heard or saw anything untoward at the accused’s house at the time. (Record 3305 lines 24–26, and Record 3305 lines 1–6)
Analysis of the defence’s arguments
Let’s look at the defence’s argument with a critical eye:
172 However, Mrs van der Merwe’s evidence, relevant to the alleged argument, is inconsistent with the Further Particulars. Her evidence was as follows:
172.1 She woke up at around 01:56 (Record 159, line 1);
172.2 She heard the voice of a woman, but it was far away. (Record 168, lines 10–17; 170, lines 21–24) She could not hear words or language. She had no idea where the voice was coming from but it was far from their house (Record 170, lines 13–15).
Mrs van der Merwe perceived the sound to be far away from her – likely because it wasn’t very loud. However, perception is not always reality. Without the benefit of knowing how sound levels diminish as sound waves propagate across distances and through barriers such as windows, etc., it would have been impossible for her to reliably testify how far or close the sound source was from her house. Without supporting context, concepts such as “far” and “near” are relative. Thus “far from her house” does not exclude Oscar’s house.
172.3 The woman’s voice was quiet for periods, which could be intervals of 5 minutes or 20 minutes (Record 168, lines 24–25).
There are parts of Oscar’s house where Mrs van der Merwe would not have heard the argument – these include the toilet, bathroom and bedroom (even with the balcony door open), the TV-room and the upstairs passage between the bedroom and the staircase had windows facing towards the Van der Merwe house. Similarly downstairs in the kitchen the windows would also have had a direct line sight to the bedroom windows of the Van der Merwes. The fact that the woman’s voice was intermittent could simply mean that Oscar and Reeva moved around inside the house. Why wasn’t a man’s voice heard? There could be several reasons for this. The most likely reason is that Oscar initially assumed a softer and perhaps a more placating tone (i.e. he was on the receiving end of Reeva’s scorn). Another reason is that his voice was just softer than Reeva’s voice and therefore not audible to Mrs van der Merwe.
172.4 She wanted to find out where the voice was coming from. She looked out towards the Farm Inn (which is in the opposite direction from the house of the Accused), to try and find out where the voice was coming from. (Record 159, line 18)
When Mrs van der Merwe heard the woman’s voice – she was in her bedroom (very likely behind closed windows). She did not go out on the balcony. Irrespective of where the sound came from – it could only enter the bedroom through the same window. In addition the sound waves that she received could have been a mix of direct sound and deflected sounds. It is quite possible that sound waves bounced against other buildings before entering the bedroom. Like looking in a mirror, deflected sounds would actually create the illusion that the sound originate from a position that is vastly different from the actual position (see diagram below). In addition once the sound waves enter the room they deflect around between the walls – making it more difficult to pinpoint the precise direction.
Mrs van der Merwe’s inability to pinpoint the direction from which the sounds came was to be expected and therefore actually reinforces her reliability and the strength of her evidence.
172.5 What is interesting is that during her re-examination, when asked in which direction she had looked during the early morning of 14 February 2013, after hearing a woman’s voice, she testified, “Farm Inn’s direction”. She was then asked which direction she had looked in on 21 February 2014 (the night the defence team conducted sound tests at the house of the Accused) she responded, “Farm Inns direction and Oscar’s house” (Record, 175, Van der Merwe, lines 1–5). This in itself is an indication that on 14 February 2013 she did not believe that the female’s voice emanated from the direction of the Accused’s house because at no stage at that time did she (also) look in the direction of the Accused’s house. (Emphasis added)
At the time that she heard the woman’s voice on 14 February 2013 Mrs van der Merwe did not yet know what was about to happen in Oscar’s house. On 21 February 2014, a little more than a year later, she obviously knew what happened. On 21 February 2014 she heard people argue – she looked in the direction of the Farm Inn – like she did on 14 February 2013. So, if an argument in Oscar’s house on 21 February 2014 compelled her to look in the Farm Inn’s direction one can therefore reliably assume that an argument in Oscar’s house on 14 February 2013 would have caused her to look in the Farm Inn’s direction as well. It seems that the defence’s experiment backfired somewhat. The fact that Mrs van der Merwe also looked at Oscar’s house on 21 February 2014 is connected to her prior experience that the sounds that she had previously heard, which she thought came from the Farm Inn’s direction, actually came from Oscar ‘s house.
Without knowing the layout of the Van der Merwe bedroom, the precise geometry of surrounding buildings, and the height of the security wall that separate the Silver Woods estate from the Farm Inn reserve it is difficult to provide a reliable explanation as to why it would have sounded to Mrs van der Merwe as if the sounds came from the Farm Inn direction. However, the defence’s own experiment has proven that on this basis Oscar’s house cannot be excluded.
172.6 At about 03:00 she heard four gunshots (Record 159, lines 19–20), which were confirmed by her husband to be gunshots (Record 161, lines 9–10). The shots were shortly one after the other (Record 161, lines 1–3).
Record 159, lines 19–20 reads as follows:
I then went back to bed again. Around about 03:00 in the morning I heard four gunshots M’Lady.
Mrs van der Merwe, testifying in Afrikaans, said that she heard four thuds (“plof geluide”). The interpreter mistranslated “plof geluide” as “gunshots”. To this translation Advocate Roux made an objection:
Roux: M’Lady that is not the interpretation, plof is thud sounds, not gunshots. She said plof geluide, it is interpreted gunshots. It is really not.
Thus paragraph 172.6 should actually read: At about 03:00 she heard four thuds, (Record 159, lines 19–20), which were confirmed by her husband to be gunshots (Record 161, lines 9–10).
172.7 Contrary to the Further Particulars.
172.7.1 She could not say she heard the female voice shortly before the gunshots.
Mrs van der Merwe could not possibly say that she heard a female voice shortly before the gunshots as it would have been impossible for her to hear Reeva screaming from the bathroom or the toilet.Estimated Sound Fields – Reeva screaming at 120 dBA from toiletEstimated Sound Fields – Oscar screaming at 115 dBA from bathroom
The figures above were generated using the dmap sound modelling application at masenv.co.uk/dbmap and they show the approximate sound fields that Reeva’s and Oscar’s screams would have generated. Keep in mind that the sound levels indicated in these figures are outside the windows of the receivers. Inside a bedroom with a closed window one has to apply a further reduction of at least 25 dBA. One also have to take into account ambient sound levels in the order of 35 dBA to 40 dBA. The Van der Merwe house is the one at the very bottom left.
Neither Oscar’s nor Reeva’s screams from the bathroom or toilet respectively would not have been audible to Mrs van der Merwe.
172.7.2 She could not say if there was a long period of silence before the shots (Record 169, lines 8–9).
Mrs van der Merwe said that she could not remember.
172.7.3 She did not hear a woman screaming before the shots. (Record 169, lines 24–25)
As already discussed, Mrs van der Merwe could not possibly say that she heard a female voice shortly before the gunshots as it would have been impossible for her to hear Reeva screaming from the bathroom or the toilet.
172.7.4 She could not say it was “talking like fighting”.
172.7.5 She could not say that she had “formed the impression that the woman was arguing”.
172.7.6 She could not say that it was a woman “constantly talking”.
Let’s measure these statements by the defence against Mrs van der Merwe’s actual testimony:
— M’Lady I woke up around 01:56 in the morning. I heard sounds, it seems like somebody was involved in a fight and this people were talking in loud voices M’Lady. It lasted for about an hour. (Record 158 line 25, Record 159 lines 1–3)
Can you explain to the court what you heard? Was it talk and a stop, talk and a stop or how did you experience it? — This person was talking, stopping, talking and it was not continuously. To me from where I was sleeping M’Lady it seems like two people were involved in an argument but I could not hear the other person’s voice. (Record 165, lines 14–18)
“it seems like somebody was involved in a fight and this people were talking in loud voices” – isn’t that “talking like fighting”? Why then 172.7.4? “it seems like two people were involved in an argument but I could not hear the other person’s voice.” – seems like the woman’s voice she heard was arguing. Why then 172.7.5? “Constantly talking” was a term used by the State in their Further Particulars. Here the defence is arguing semantics – it is clear that the talking that Mrs van der Merwe heard was intermittent and went on constantly for an hour.
172.7.7 She could not say the voice was continuing up to the gunshots and then stopped.
172.7.8 She could not say the voice came from the Accused’s house.
This is true, there is no direct objective evidence that what Mrs van der Merwe heard was from Oscar’s house. But there is nothing that excludes Oscar’s house as the source of the argument. No other source has ever been identified. The Judge had no reason to completely reject Mrs Van der Merwe’s testimony – at least she should have considered it as a possibility – to be placed on the same canvas with all other circumstantial evidence to see what overall picture emerges.
In an attempt to justify her decision about Mrs Van der Merwe Judge Masipa referred to the fact security guard Pieter Baba didn’t hear anything when he passed by Oscar’s house while on security patrol. The Defence presented evidence that Pieter Baba was adjacent to Oscar’s house between 02:18 and 02:22 on patrol duty.
177. The State’s reliance on an argument is further refuted by the evidence of Peter Baba, the security guard.
178. According to his evidence, which is supported by the information on the guard track (Exhibit “TTT”), he was positioned at the following stands in relation to the Accused’s house:
178.1 At 02:18 at stand 287, which is the property of Mr Nhlengethwa, which is right next to the house of the Accused.
178.2 He passed the house of the Accused to go to stands 162 and 153. He was at stand 162 at 02:20 and at stand 153 at 02:22.
179. When he was in the immediate vicinity of the Accused’s house or having passed his house he did not hear any arguing. According to him everything was normal. (Record 432, line 22-23, 433, line 17–19)
180. If the lights were on at the house of the Accused or if they were arguing to the extent that Mrs van der Merwe could hear a female voice, Pieter Baba would have told the Court about it and not that “everything was normal”. (Record 432, lines 19–20)
The defence argued that the periods of silence that Mrs van der Merwe heard could have ranged between 5 and 20 minutes. The security guard was in the vicinity of Oscar’s house for a total of less than 5 minutes (from 02:18 to 02:22). It is not inconceivable therefore that their presence in the vicinity of Oscar’s house coincided with one of these 5 – 20 minute silent periods!
Pieter Baba could not recall that the balcony light was on. It is quite conceivable that he simply could not remember the state of Oscar’s downstairs lights at the time of the trial more than a year after the event.
181. Clearly, the speculative nature concerning the evidence of a female voice far away, which the State seeks to rely upon for the existence of an argument, does not meet the criteria so as to constitute acceptable circumstantial evidence. It also does not meet any objective standard in order to qualify to form part of an event for purposes of the time line
Note how the defence again refer to the voice as “far away”. As Mrs van der Merwe did not physically see the source of the voice there is no objective evidence that the voice came from far away.
In our opinion Mrs van der Merwe’s testimony was not the only evidence that supports that there was an argument between Oscar and Reeva that evening.
Let’s look at the other circumstantial evidence that needed to be considered by the court to see the whole picture.
To corroborate Mrs van der Merwe’s evidence the State tried to use the fact that Reeva had partially digested food in her stomach which could not have been much older than about 2 hours. To the State this meant that Reeva was downstairs in the kitchen at about 01:00 – in a part of the house where an argument could have been audible to Mrs van der Merwe.
164. Professor Saayman’s expert opinion that the deceased had eaten two hours or less before she was killed is strengthened by the fact that he identified 200 millimeters of stomach content during the post mortem, and that post mortem digestion continued at least until 11:45 when the body was handed over to the mortuary.
165 If the court “step(s) back and consider(s) the mosaic as a whole” the following conclusive inferences are to be made:
- There is no evidence that the deceased ate something in the bedroom
- If follows that if she had eaten something it must have been downstairs in the kitchen
- This will place her closer to the Van der Merwe’s residence which will corroborate Mrs van der Merwe’s evidence
- These inferences will also shed light on the accused’s struggle to deal with the de-activation of the alarm. The only reasonable inference to be made is that the alarm had not been activated at all
166. We respectfully argue that the court will have no option but to find that the deceased had eaten between 01:00 and 03:17 on the morning of 14 February 2013.
167. The finding in itself does not only corroborate the inference that Mrs van der Merwe heard the deceased’s voice from around 01:56, but it destroys the accused’s version of the loving couple going to bed at approximately 22:00.
This is what Judge Masipa thought of the State’s misguided attempt to use Reeva’s stomach content as corroboration that Mrs Van der Merwe heard Reeva’s voice arguing at about 02:00:
There is also the matter of partially digested food that Professor Saayman found in the stomach of the deceased’s body during the post-mortem examination of the deceased. Counsel for the state submitted that this fact was a strong indication that dinner was not at 19:00 the night before as alleged by the accused, but closer to the time when the deceased was shot dead. He argued that that would explain the ‘argument’ that was heard by Ms van der Merwe just after she had woken up at 01:56. This argument seems to lose sight of the following:
1. That the experts agreed that gastric emptying was not an exact science. It would therefore be unwise for this court to even attempt to figure out what the presence of partially digested food might mean as the evidence before this court is inconclusive. However, even if this court were to accept that the deceased had something to eat shortly before she was killed, it would not assist the state as the inference sought to be drawn by the state from this fact is not the only reasonable inference. She might have left the bedroom while the accused was asleep to get something to eat. What complicates this matter is that it is not even clear when and if the alarm was activated at any given time that evening or that morning.
It is hard the find fault with the Judge’s reasoning.
If we accept Oscar’s version that they had dinner at about 19:00 and she still had partially undigested food in her stomach at the time of the autopsy the next day we must accept that there must be a reason for this abnormally slow rate of digestion. It is an accepted fact in pathology that stress can slow down digestion significantly. The reader is referred to page 88 of Knight’s Forensic Pathology, 3rd Edition, by Pekka Saukko and Bernard Knight, published by Hodder Arnold, 2004.
One of the most important factors in the forensic context is the effect of a physical or mental shock or stress during the digestion process. As stated, this can completely inhibit digestion, gastric motility and pyloric opening.
If, however, a domestic dispute or a developing altercation culminated in a strangling or stabbing, the antecedent stresses would almost certainly affect gastric function and render invalid any interpretation of the condition of stomach contents at autopsy
It is hard to understand why the State chose Reeva’s stomach content to corroborate that there was an argument when there were much stronger evidence available which the State largely ignored either misunderstood, overlooked or chose to ignore.
1) Reeva had injuries on her body that cannot be reconciled with events in the toilet – an abraded nipple, and two abrasions on her back
The striations in the larger abrasion is clearly visible – as well as how the skin got pushed and compressed in the direction of the yellow lines and arrow. It is clear that the abrasions on Reeva’s back were made by an object that moved downwards from left to right. A ricocheted bullet would have approached Reeva’s back from the right, and if she fell against a magazine rack the wounds would have shown upwards directionality, which clearly they don’t.
What else of what happened in the toilet could have caused these abrasions – or were they inflicted outside the toilet?
In our opinion it is more likely that these abrasions were made by the tip of Oscar’s bat during a downswing that grazed two protuberances of the spinal column.
Reeva’s right nipple was severely abraded. This is what Professor Saayman said:
“There is reddish discolouration of the tip of the right nipple, having the appearance of relatively fresh contusion.
And that is seen on photograph 1115, M’Lady.
Can you further comment on that specific injury? — M’Lady, I have described this as a ‘contusion’. A contusion is technically a, a bruise without stripping of the superficial layers of the skin. In this particular instance with the naked eye on macroscopic description, it did look like a contusion, but upon significant enlargement of this photograph, it does become apparent that there is indeed superficial stripping of the skin layers. So it would probably technically be more correct to describe this as an ‘abrasion’, where there had been frictional contact and denudation of the skin, of the nipple itself. (Record 504, lines 4–15)
We believe that there is a connection between the nipple abrasion and the rents in Reeva’s vest.
2) The rents in Reeva’s black vest is not compatible with the wounds on Reeva’s chest
In OVTT we show an overlay to illustrate that the holes in Reeva’s vest does not align with any wounds on her body and are highly unlikely to have been made by bullet fragments. Their frayed and rough edges are rather consistent with ripping after someone pulled on it. It is also not consistent with cutting by scissors or a sharp blade.
It is also no coincidence that the rents are on same side as Reeva’s abraded nipple. Is it possible that when Oscar gripped and pulled the vest during an argument that the combination of pressure and pulling on the right side caused not only the rents,but also the friction that abraded Reeva’s right nipple? It seems that during this tussle Oscar likely pulled the vest completely off because when Reeva was shot in the toilet indications are that she was’t wearing the vest. If she was indeed wearing the vest then where is the corresponding hole in the vest aligning with the bullet that hit her in the hip? In the OVTT overlays we also show that the vest was long enough to hang below where she was shot. One can see the bullet hole in her shorts but not on the vest.
3) A duvet and an inside-out pair of Reeva’s jeans laid crumpled on the bedroom floor
One has to ask what a reasonable person would do. On Oscar’s version – after dinner they both retired to the bedroom where they chatted, surfed the internet, watched TV, etc. At some point Reeva did yoga on the bedroom floor. One can assume that when they got to the bedroom Reeva took off her bra, flip-flops and jeans to put on the Nike shorts. If one accepts Oscar’s version – knowing how the police found the scene in the bedroom we also have to accept that Reeva took of her flip-flops and left them neatly on the left side of the bed, placed the bra back into the bag, and then took of her pants and left them discarded on the floor, instead of at least draping it over a chair. If one could ask 100 people to remove their jeans – how many of them do you think will take it off in a way that will turn the jeans inside out? Try this for yourself – it takes considerably more effort. The inside-out jeans are more consistent with someone standing trying to take off their pants by pulling out the feet without using their hands – OR with the pants being removed forcibly by another person.
An then, what reasonably neat person would just leave clothes lying on the floor? And why only the jeans and nothing else?
Regarding the duvet. Oscar denies that the duvet was on the floor before and after the shooting incident. He claims that police deliberately placed the duvet on the floor – to manipulate the scene at a time when they didn’t even know what his version was. No one – not Oscar, nor his attorneys – could ever give a plausible explanation as to why the police would do something this bizarre. If we accept that the police didn’t place the duvet on he floor we have to ask the question what went on inside that bedroom for the duvet to end up on the floor – and why did Oscar try to hide what led to this? The fact that Oscar lied means that the truth would have been detrimental to his case.
And if we accept that the police did not manipulate the scene in this manner then we must also accept that Oscar admitted that his version is not true:
Nel: Now let us take it one step further, if that photograph that we see there, photograph 55, if that is the way it was that morning, your version cannot be true.
Oscar: That is correct, M’Lady.
4) The bedroom doors were damaged – dents, a bullet hole (consistent with the size of a pellet) and cracks as if someone tried to break them open.
How many of us have a bedroom door with a bullet hole through it, and with dents that appear as if they could have been made by striking it with an object like a cricket or baseball bat?
In OVTT we show high-quality photos of the damage to the bedroom door.
Inexplicably Oscar was never asked to explain the bullet hole or the dents on the edge of the door. Regarding the damage around the latches Oscar volunteered the following explanation:
The … after I got off the phone with the … with the Netcare 911 call centre, I ran down downstairs to open the front door. I could barely pick Reeva up, I would not have been able to open the door and carry her. So I ran, I open my bedroom door and I open the front door. I then ran back up to my room and on the way into my room I tried to force the door open. There is … there is two … two doors to my bedroom, M’Lady. The one I use, just locks with a key and then the other one, has got a latch at the top and at the bottom. So I ran into the door and it did not break open and I unlatched the bottom latch and when I unlatch the bottom latch, the door opened. (Record 1480, lines 24 to 25 and Record 1481 lines 1–9).
So on his way back to the bedroom instead of simply unlatching the second door Oscar tried to forcibly break it open by running into it? Let’s not forget than when the police got to the scene the second door was still closed and latched. Clearly Oscar told a lie. People tell lies to hide something. In this case he lied to hide how the door really got damaged like that. If the truth wasn’t detrimental to his case then he would have told the truth.
5) On the paving outside, directly below the toilet window, there was another pair of discarded jeans
Is it a coincidence that right under the window where Reeva was shot a few hours before, the police found a pair of jeans outside on the paving? As the State didn’t ask Oscar about whose jeans they were and how they got there one can just speculate. It could be that the dog dragged it there after it fell from the washing line, or it could be that Reeva used the jeans to try and draw attention by waving it through an open toilet window, but it fell from her fingers too soon. Point is, Oscar was not asked about it under cross examination.
6) In the bathroom there was a damaged metal plate on the side of the bath tub.
What would it take to bend the metal plate like this? This is not normal wear and tear, or the result of an accidental bump by a garbage can or even Oscar’s prostheses. There are no moveable furniture in the bathroom. This is the result of a targeted blow – likely by a long linear object – like a cricket bat. Some may say this plate was damaged when Oscar hit it by mistake after the bat glanced of the door or after a swing missed the door altogether. No able minded person with a serious and honest intention to break down a door with a cricket bat will miss the door or hit it in a manner that would cause the bat to glance off it and hit the plate behind him/her. One will instinctively position oneself at the most optimal position to impart maximal damage to the door – it comes naturally as a result of an accumulation of life’s experiences. Try it for yourself – take a cricket bat, a golf club, a broomstick, etc. and pretend that you have to break a door open – behind it is a mortally wounded person you care deeply about. What did you need to do to miss the door in order to instead hit something behind you? Was it natural?
7) The cricket bat shows unusual damage
According to Oscar he only only came into contact with Reeva’s bloodied body – after he handled the cricket bat. Now if one look closely at the cricket bat handle one can see a red discoloration – as if someone gripped it with bloodied hands. In addition, the rubber lining is badly torn and ripped. Not the type of damage on would expect from normal use or only three hard blows to a door. The damage is more consistent with a pulling and a twisting of the bat – as when someone tried to pull the bat from someone else’s hands.
In OVTT we provide better quality pictures and close-ups of the cricket bat’s handle.
Here we have lots of circumstantial evidence. And when an issue is based solely on circumstantial evidence the court must carefully consider the cumulative effect of all the evidence together as a whole, and they should not be weighed separately to determine guilt or innocence.
According to Supreme Court of Appeal in State versus Hadebe 1998(1) SACR 422 (SCA) at 426 g-h: …the court must guard against a tendency to focus too intently upon the separate and individual parts of what is, after all, a mosaic of proof. Doubts about one aspect of the evidence led in a trial may arise when that aspect is viewed in isolation. The doubts may be set at rest when it is evaluated again together with all other available evidence…it is necessary to step back a pace and consider the mosaic as a whole. If that is not done, one may fail to see the wood for the trees
Here we have someone that heard an argument about an hour before hearing four gunshots. Inside the house there are signs of a turbulent evening – a damaged bedroom door with a bullet hole, clothes and bedding strewn on the floor – abrasions and bruises on Reeva’s body that are not consistent with events that took place inside the toilet – ripped clothing, a damaged cricket bat – an inexplicably dented steel plate – several witness hearing a woman’s frantic screams before being silenced by four gunshots.
Now that we have applied all the paint to the canvas what picture of truth emerges?
If we reject the conclusion that there was indeed an argument between Oscar and Reeva that evening the we also HAVE to accept the following alternatives put forward by the defence.