The problems with Oscar’s version

Recently in the ITV interview, Oscar again explained his version of events of what happened after he got out of bed at about 03:00 to move the fans. In spite of ZERO objective and direct evidence to support his version, many accept his version as gospel – claiming that he has never changed his version right from the bail hearing to the ITV interview and that this must be some sign that his version is true.

The only reason the court accepted his version, in spite of admitting that Oscar wasn’t candid and honest with the court, is because it ultimately accepted Oscar’s version a reasonably possibly true – and not that it was true beyond a reasonable doubt.

So let’s look at Oscar’s version in more detail. We are going to point to some objective evidence that Oscar lied, significant inconsistencies and several instances where his behaviour did not conform to what a reasonable person would have done in similar circumstances.

Oscar said he woke at about 03:00 in the morning. It seems that Reeva was already awake as she asked him whether he also couldn’t sleep. He noticed that the balcony door was open and that Reeva didn’t bring in the fans as he asked her to do when he went to sleep earlier in the evening. The balcony light was on – and at this time he would likely have been able to see things in the room.

In spite of it being extremely warm in the room he got out of bed and while holding onto the side of the bed for balance he walked to the fans and moved them into the room and closed the balcony door.

From his Bail Statement – signed 19 February 2014 – 5 days after the incident:

16.7 During the early morning hours of 14 February 2013, I woke up, went onto the balcony to bring the fan in and closed the sliding doors, the blinds and the curtains. I heard a noise in the bathroom and realized that someone was in the bathroom.

I few observations – and Oscar was grilled about this in court as well: he went onto the balcony – i.e he went through the door out onto the balcony to bring in “the fan” – a single fan – not two. He heard a noise in the bathroom that made him think that the intruder was inside the bathroom. When an intruder slides a window open – he/she is still outside – in this case standing on a ladder – about to climb in.

Let’s compare this with what Oscar said during the trial:

I woke up, M'Lady in the early hours of the 14th February. It was extremely warm in my room. I sat up in bed. I noticed that the fans were still running and that the door was still open. Although the lights had been switched off, Reeva was still awake or she was obviously not sleeping, she rolled over to me and she said: Can you not sleep my baba? And I said no, I cannot and I got out on my side of the bed. I walked around the bed, the foot of the bed. I was holding onto the foot of the bed with my left hand. I got to the fans, where the fans were. I took the small fan, the floor fan, I placed it pretty much just inside the room and I took the bigger tripod fan and I took it by the part just underneath the fan and I placed it in the bedroom. The fans were still running. they were still running at the time and I then proceeded to close the sliding doors and lock them. I then drew the curtains.

Now there are two fans that he moved. The same Oscar who said in the ITV interview that while on his stumps he can hardly lift up a cricket bat without losing his balance moved both the big and small fans while on his stumps. He said he held onto the balcony door as he moved the fans – but considering where he moved the fans to he had to let go of the door at some point.

Under cross-examination, Oscar explained that he didn’t actually go out onto the balcony – only that the big fan was partly on the balcony. The reason why he only referred to one fan was because only the big fan was partly outside. He didn’t mention the small fan as it was already inside.

MR NEL: Do you have page 64, sir? 
--- I do My Lady.

Now if you look at line 20, let us start at 19. I will read it and if you just follow:
“During the early morning of 14 February 2013, I woke up, went onto the balcony to bring the fan in.” 
--- That is correct, My Lady.

Now there are two problems there, is it not so? 
--- It see that it says: "I went onto the balcony to bring the fan in.” I agree with Mr Nel, My Lady that the fan was partly on the balcony, but I did not go onto the balcony to bring the fan in. I do not know where the second problem would be?

The fans. In your whole of your bail statement there is only reference to one fan. Am I right?
 --- If we are talking in reference with the sentence that was read to me, My Lady, it says: I went onto the balcony to bring the fan in. As I have said earlier, the one fan’s leg was on the balcony and the other fan was between the two legs of the tripod fan and it was on the carpet. So that not outside. I brought the fan that was on the balcony, inside
 (Record 1524, Lines 15–25 and Record 1225, Lines 1–8).

So we are to believe that when he said “I went onto the balcony to bring the fan in” – he actually meant that he brought the fan in whose one leg was standing on the balcony. And because the small fan had no part of it on the balcony it was somehow not worth mentioning in the the bail statement.

When Nel pressed further about this inconsistency Oscar said:

What I can say here, is that this talks about bringing in the fan. There was one fan that was not inside the house (Record 1225, Lines 13–15).

We don’t want to make too much of this, but is “not inside the house” an accurate description of a fan that had two legs standing inside the house and with only one leg on the balcony?

It is clear from Oscar’s testimony that the small fan was working. The problem is that, on Oscar’s version, the small fan could not have worked that night. There was simply no place to plug it into – the extension cord was already full with two other plugs and had no space for the small fan. This Oscar admitted. Furthermore, the cord of the small fan was too short to reach any of the wall plugs. This Oscar admitted too – hence why he had an extension cord. In spite of these two admissions, Oscar still refused to admit that the small fan wasn’t working – and even repeated this lie in the ITV interview. Please read more about the small fan here. (One also gets the idea Judge Masipa simply did not understand and comprehend the moving of the fans issues as a deciding factor w.r.t. the validity of Oscar’s version.)

Look at the photo below and imagine you move the fan to the “little mountain” in the middle of the duvet. Would the cord of the fan not have pulled the white bar of the extension cord to the corner of the bed? It is clear that the position of the white power bar is very unusual within the context of Oscar’ version. Nel grilled Oscar about this inconsistency, and Oscar could never give a satisfactory explanation. Please read more about it here.

Place yourself in Oscar’s shoes for a moment – it is a hot night – you want to cool the room down with the big fan. Isn’t the position of the fan in front of the open door a fairly natural position to achieve this? There is certainly nothing unusual about the position of the big fan and the open door. And to assist with the movement of air through the room you probably would have opened the bathroom window as well.

Regarding the moving of the fans. There is no objective evidence that Oscar even as much as touched the fans that morning (and also not the curtains, as we fully explain in Oscar vs the Truth). We only have his word for it. In contrast, there are some significant inconsistencies and contradictions that put the truthfulness of his version into question.

Regarding the noise he heard – this is what Oscar said during his testimony:

It was at this point that I heard a window open in the bathroom. It sounded like the window sliding open and then I could hear the window hit the frame as if it had slipped to a point where it cannot slide anymore.

Is it a wooden frame window? --- It is wood, all the frames in my house and doors are wooden frames, M'Lady.

That is the window referred to in the evidence of the photographer? --- That is correct, M'Lady.

What did you think at the time Mr Pistorius? --- M'Lady, that is the moment that everything changed. I thought that there was a burglar gaining entry into my home. I was ... I was on the side of the room where you first have to cross the passage which leads to the ... which leads to the bathroom. I think initially I just froze. I did not really know what to do. I had heard this noise, I interpreted it as being somebody who was climbing into the bathroom (Record 1470, Lines 7–21).

This is a photo of the window from outside. What would have caused the sound of a frame hitting a frame – at the point where it can’t slide anymore? These are overlapping sliding windows – the frames don’t ‘bump’ into each other when a window is opened. Furthermore, it also doesn’t appear as if the window was opened to its maximum extent – it is unlikely that the window bumped into a stopper of some kind. It appears that it possible to slide all the panes completely to the right. We explain this more visually in Oscar vs the Truth.

After hearing the sound he said he “froze”. He didn’t know what to do. Since there wasn’t an intruder there were no sounds of entry as the intruder squeezed and slid into the window opening, perhaps bumping into and rattling the blinds. In spite of hearing none of these signs of entry (also not his dog barking), Oscar was still convinced that a burglar was gaining entry into his house. He didn’t ask Reeva if she heard the sound as well.

It is important to keep in mind that on Oscar’s version – when he heard the sound the burglar was still outside on a ladder – and still had to climb through the window. Oscar had enough time to arm himself – to grab Reeva and to flee from the room through the bedroom door – to the room next door or downstairs to the kitchen and garage. In the ITV interview, Oscar said he couldn’t do this as he had no mobility on his stumps. The Evidence Room video clearly shows otherwise – Oscar actually does have good mobility on his stumps. In addition, he would have had Reeva by his side to give him support. Instead he chose to directly confront the intruder in his vulnerable state (so he could run to the bathroom but not out of the room?) – leaving Reeva behind in the room. If the intruder overpowered Oscar, Reeva would have been trapped in the room. If he wanted to confront the intruder so badly why didn’t he rather tell Reeva to leave the room and go downstairs – instead he told her to get down on the floor as if that would save her from an intruder entering the room. We know it is easy to sit back after the fact and to question someone’s behaviour in what must have been a very scary moment (on his version, of course). That is when instinct kicks in – the instinct to protect your loved one’s and to preserve your own life.

So after he snapped out his state of frozen fear he “ran” to the side of his bed to retrieve his gun (he had mobility to do this but not to flee?). He unholstered it and flung the holster to land on the bedside table. He could do all this “in the dark” but it was too dark to see that Reeva wasn’t on the bed. He told Reeva to get down on the floor and to call the police. Without hearing a response he made his way to the corridor.

The first thing that ran through my mind was that I needed to arm myself, that I needed to protect Reeva and I and that I needed to get my gun. I then ... I was looking down the passage. I was scared that the person was going to come out, or people were going to come out at that point. I rushed as quick as I could. I could not see anything in the room, so I ran with my hand out in front of me, at times touching the floor and then when I got to my bed I made my way along the side of my bed. I grabbed my firearm from underneath the bed and it had a canvas holster on it. I immediately took it out the holster. At that point I wanted just to put myself between ... get back to where the passage was, so that I could put myself between the person that had gained access to my house and Reeva. When I got just before the passage wall, I remember slowing down because I was scared that at that point, this person, during the time that I had got from ... that I had left the ... to where I got my firearm, could have possibly already been in the passage, in the closet passage. So I slowed down and I had my firearm extended in front of me ... [intervened]

If I may ... [intervened] --- Just as I ... just as I left my bed, I whispered for Reeva to get down and phone the police. I ... as I entered where the passa ... passage is, where the closet is to the ... where I entered the passage where the closet is to the bathroom, it was at that point that I was just overcome with fear and I started screaming and shouting for the burglar or the intruders to get out of my house (Record 1471, Lines 2–25).

On Oscar’s version at this time, Reeva was in the dark toilet likely urinating with the toilet door open. After Oscar started screaming and shouting for the intruder to “get the fuck out of his house” he heard the toilet door slam shut.

I shouted for Reeva to get down on the floor. I shouted for her to phone the police. I screamed at the people, the persons to get out. I was ... I slowly made my way down the passage, constantly aware that this threat, these people or persons could come at me at any time. I did not have my legs on and just before I got to the wall of the ... like where the tiles start in the bathroom, I stopped shouting, because I was worried that if I shout, the person would know exactly where I was. If I put my head around the corner, then I could get shot. Just before I got to the ... just before I got to the passage of the bathroom, I heard a door slam which could only been the toilet door. I could not see into the bathroom at this point, but I could hear the door slam and for me it confirmed that there was a person or people inside the toilet or inside the bathroom at that time (Record 1472, Lines 1–13).

Let’s look at this from Reeva’s perspective (on Oscar’s version) – when she entered the bathroom the window was closed – she opened it – there was no intruder in the bathroom – she used the toilet with the door open – she would have noticed if any intruder climbed through the window while she was on the toilet. All of a sudden she heard Oscar screaming at someone to get out of the house – and she heard Oscar shouting at her to get down on the floor and to call the police. Imagine her confusion at this point. On Oscar’s version, we are led to believe that she kept quiet not to give her position away, but slammed the door shut nonetheless.

Just before Oscar reached the entrance he stopped screaming and shouting. He wasn’t sure where the intruders were and didn’t want to give his position away. Slowly he entered the bathroom until he could see the bathroom is empty, window open and the bathroom door closed. At this point, he started screaming again.

--- I got to the entrance of the bathroom, at the end of the passage, where I stopped screaming. At this point I was certain that the intruder or intruders were there in my, in my ... [intervenes]

COURT: I will ask you again to raise up your voice, please. --- I am sorry, M'Lady. At that point that I was entering the bathroom, I was not shouting or screaming, I was ... at that point I thought that the intruder or intruders were going to come out or were around the corner or were in the bathroom at that time.

Then I stood at the point where I have moved back to after I had looked in the basin I had stood back so that just the bathroom door was in line with the wall and I could see the window and I had my firearm still in front of me. Again I screamed for Reeva to phone the police or the security and then I shouted and I kept on shouting (Record 1780, Line 23–25, and Record 1781, Line 1–2).

Let’s continue to put ourselves in Reeva’s shoes. After hearing the shouting from Oscar that she must call the police and get down to the floor – and after hearing Oscar screaming at someone to get the fuck out of the house – it goes quiet for a while. There is no evidence that Reeva attempted to, or actually made an emergency call. If Oscar asked her to do so – in what she must have perceived as an emergency situation – why didn’t she do so?

Then suddenly – from just a few meters on the other side of the toilet door Oscar start shouting again to call the police – not once but several times. You know that Oscar is very anxious and fearful of something and that you calling the police is very important – and yet you decide not to tell him that you have heard him – that you have, or are in the process of calling the police – so that Oscar can focus more on the threat? Whatever the situation was outside the toilet – Oscar wanted you to make a call – it was secure enough for you to use your voice to call the police – not to remain deadly silent. Then why go against Oscar’s instructions and remain standing – remaining silent?

Mrs Stipp was awake in the period leading up to the gunshots (on Oscar’s version). Yet, before the gunshots she did not hear any of the screaming and shouting that went on in Oscar’s bathroom before he fired the shots.

So while shouting and screaming Oscar’s heard a noise and before he knew it he had sprayed four bullets through the door. Mrs Stipp and Dr Stipp heard these shots and moments later looked out of their bedroom window and saw that the light on Oscar’s bathroom was on. Oscar denied this:

View from the Stipps’ bedroom towards Oscar’s house

No. Both said, immediately after the shots, when they looked, the lights were on. Both. Take it from me. Why? They said the lights were on. Even on your version, excepting what they said, the lights were on? --- That is correct, M'Lady. I think they did ... I think they both did say that, M'Lady.

So, they must be lying? --- They must be, M'Lady. I do not remember the lights being on and I cannot remember when I switched the lights on, as I have said before.

In spite of not remembering when he switched the light on, he accused the Stipps of lying.

After the shots, Oscar slowly walked backwards to the bedroom – still shouting at Reeva to call the police. In the ITV interview he said that when he reach the bed – he felt for Reeva but couldn’t feel her legs – he then turned and looked and saw that Reeva wasn’t there. How could he see that Reeva wasn’t there if the room was pitch black? He started hitting the duvet – confirmed that Reeva wasn’t on the bed. This gave him a sense of calm – that she got down on the floor as he told her to do.

What was missing from this narrative? Firstly – not asking Reeva where she was? “Reeva, where are you!?” The most natural and expected thing to say under the circumstances. Secondly – he did not switch on the bedside lamp (or any other light) – depriving himself one of the most important senses he required in the situation – vision. Is it not natural and instinctive that when you search for something – that you want to see? While searching behind the curtain – he had every opportunity to open the curtain in order to let the balcony light illuminate the room. Thirdly – he never checked if Reeva perhaps left the room through the bedroom door.

So when he reached the foot-end of the bed he decided to give up on the search behind the curtains and he ran on his stumps, in pitch darkness, to the bathroom. In our book Oscar vs the Truth we recreated the scene to show what the room would have looked like on Oscar’s version. It would almost have been impossible to traverse that area in the dark without tripping and falling over fans or suspended power cords.

This is what Oscar said about his mobility on his stumps in darkness:

My balance is better in the light. In the dark I really struggle. At night, if I get out of bed, I hold onto things (Record 2583, Line 25 and Record 2584, Lines 1–2).

From the cross-examination of Dr. Versveld:

Can I ask you, based on your version, and I am not accepting that, I am just saying, running back from the bathroom, in the pitch dark, would you expect the accused to fall, if it is pitch dark, he is running, he cannot really concentrate on how to put his stumps down or things, on your version? --- It would be difficult.

What would be difficult? --- To run in the pitch dark, holding on to a weapon and he would be at high risk for falling.

And in all probability he would fall, if you just look at the probabilities, from where you are standing. --- He would have a high risk of falling, yes.

But if there were light on, the risk of falling would be less, if he could see? --- Correct (Record 2615, Lines 9–20).

On Oscar’s version and according to his expert he cannot balance in the dark and would be a high risk of falling – and yet in such a desperate situation, he did not switch the lights on in order to more effectively deal with the situation?

When Oscar got to the toilet door he tried it and found it was locked. He tried to shoulder it open – a rather impossible task considering the door opens to the outside.

I tried to grab the handle and rip open the door, I pushed the door open and it was locked. I then took ... for the first time I turned around, with my back facing the bathroom I ran back to the room. I opened the curtains. I shouted from the balcony. I opened the doors and I shouted from the balcony for help. I screamed: ‘Help!  Help!  Help!’ I screamed for somebody to help me and then ... [Pause] ... I ... I put my prosthetic ... I put my prosthetic legs on. I ran as fast as I could back to the bathroom.  I ran into the door.  It did not move at all. I leant back and I tried to kick the door and nothing happened. I was ... I was ... just panicked at this point, I did not really know what to make or what to do. I ran back to the bedroom where the cricket bat was between the cabinet and the door.

“Push” on a door that opens towards you? Running into a door and kicking a door that opens towards you? And again he ran in the dark past the fans and the cords to the balcony without tripping and falling?

According to Oscar, after the gunshots he shouted and screamed for Reeva to call the police. Once he discovered that Reeva wasn’t in the bedroom, he called out her name. On Oscar’s version the Stipps, Johnson and Burger interpreted these screams as those of a woman in great distress. The witnesses said that the terrified screams of a woman were constant and continued for several minutes. To Dr Stipp it sounded as if the woman was scared out of her mind. Mrs Stipp thought that it was a “family murder”.

The defence did conduct acoustic tests with Oscar screaming, but it is clear that they simply did not want to introduce this evidence in court. Probably because Oscar’s screams sound nowhere near like a woman’s scream. Instead their argument as to why Oscar can scream like a woman is because when he got anxious on the witness stand he spoke with a high pitch. But even with a high pitch he still sounded like a man all the time. There was not not a shred of evidence placed before the court that Oscar can produce the blood curdling screams of a woman. What are the chances that four witnesses misinterpreted Oscar supposed screaming and shouting in the same manner?

Between the woman’s screams the witnesses did hear Oscar shouting for help three times. Johnson testified that to him the shouts lacked conviction and sincerity.

Interestingly, this running to the balcony to shout for help was not part of his ITV version.

Oscar went outside onto the balcony to shout for help, without knowing for sure if Reeva was behind the door – at that time he has still not checked if Reeva  perhaps left the bedroom to go hide somewhere else in the house. As a minimum all he had to do was to check if the cricket bat was still in position on the floor between the door and the cabinet.

After shouting from the balcony he supposedly strapped on his prostheses and went back to the bathroom where he tried to kick the door open. In Oscar vs the Truth we explain why we think the mark wasn’t made by Oscar’s prostheses but rather by the cricket bat.

Let’s think about this – you suspect that your loved one was behind the door into which you just fired four shots. You desperately need to know who is behind that door. You need to open that door – quickly – and the best you can do is to try to kick a door open on your prostheses – a door that opens towards you?

So, with the cricket bat he said he hit the door about three times:

I put my prosthetic legs on. I ran as fast as I could back to the bathroom. I ran into the door. It did not move at all. I leant back and I tried to kick the door and nothing happened. I was ... I was ... just panicked at this point, I did not really know what to make or what to do. I ran back to the bedroom where the cricket bat was between the cabinet and the door.

Were you screaming at that stage? --- I was screaming and shouting the whole time and crying out. I was ... I do not think I can ... I do not think I have ever screamed like that or cried like that or screamed or ... I was crying out for the Lord to help me. I was crying out for Reeva. I was screaming. ... [Pause] ...  I ... I did not know what to do. I ran back to ... I ran straight back to the bathroom door and I placed my fire ... I do not remember but I must have placed my firearm on the carpet in the bathroom.

Do you know if the light was on or off at that stage in the bathroom --- The light was on at that stage, M'Lady. I do not remember switching it on. I remember it being on when I kicked the door. I ran straight up to the door and I started hitting [no audio 14:16:49] times. The first time [no audio 14:16:56] I remember hitting, I hit the frame of the door [no audio 14:17:04] my hands [no audio 14:17:05] there was a small piece open and at that point all I wanted to do was just look inside to see if it was Reeva. I then ... I then hit the door. I think I hit the door three times and there was a big plank, I grabbed it with my hands and I threw it out into the bathroom. I leant over the middle partition. I tried to open the door from the inside but there was no key in the door and I leant over the middle partition of the door and I saw the key was on the floor. At that point all I wanted to do was just climb into the toilet over the middle part of the door. Whilst I leant over the partition to get in, I saw the key, so I took it and I unlocked the door and I flung the door open and I threw it open and I sat over Reeva and I cried and I do not know, I do not know how long ... I do not know how long I was there for [accused crying]. She was not breathing!

He said he thought he hit the door three times. After the three strikes there was a big plank that came loose – he grabbed it with his hands and and threw it out into the bathroom. To break down a door with a bat you will instinctively position yourself in such a manner so as to hit the door at  near optimal angle to impart maximum force and damage to the door – it is not something we have to think about – it just comes naturally. Also instinctively you will aim for the thinnest and weakest part of the door.

Oscar said that the first strike was against the frame – see #1 in the photos below. He clearly aimed for the weakest part the door – the beveled joint where the panel meets the frame, but missed it by a few centimetres. The defence argued that the top mark (#2) was also made by a bat strike. We have to assume that this was the 2nd strike. Then Oscar broke through the door with a 3rd well aimed strike right into the weak spot adjacent to the first strike – #3 in the photos. Forensic expert Vermeulen was of the opinion that only the 1st and 3rd marks were made by the cricket bat – he could do a physical match to prove this. On Oscar’s version the three bat strikes were rapidly delivered one after another.

Let’s look at this. Remember Oscar was in a panic – he was anxious – he had to break down the door fast – Reeva’s life could have depended on it. But we are to believe that right between these well aimed strikes he delivered a useless strike way up high – not at a weak spot, and not  at a location where he would have been able to impart maximum force on the door (even if he was on his stumps).

In the ITV interview Oscar used the top mark as a reason why he could not have been on his stumps when he hit the door – because he would not have been able to reach that high. This is a not true – by standing closer to the door Oscar could have reached the top mark with a cricket bat with ease. Even if we for the sake of the argument accept that the top mark was made by a bat strike – there is no evidence that this strike was part of the set of three thuds/bangs heard by the neighbours – the so called “second sounds”. It could very well have been made when Reeva was screaming for her life.

Vermeulen demonstrated that in order for him to comfortably make the two strikes he had to bend his knees. It was an unnatural position for him – he could only get into a natural position by standing on his knees – in which case his shoulder height was about the same as Oscar’s shoulder height when he is on his stumps. Using physics and geometry one can show that if he was on his prostheses and he hit the door at #1 and #3 – he would have hit the door at a “uneconomical” angle that would not have given him maximum impact on the door.

The greatest evidence that Oscar lied about being on his prostheses when he broke the door open and when he pulled Reeva out of the toilet can be found in the blood marks on the toilet and bathroom floors. There are no foot prints. Instead there are swipe/drag marks that appear to have been made by Oscar’s stumps. In Oscar vs the Truth we conducted an extensive analyses of several marks to show that they are reconcilable with Oscar’s stumps. Photos of Oscar’s prostheses show socks that are remarkably clean considering Oscar pulled Reeva’s bloodied body out of the toilet in a manner which caused so much blood to spread all over the bathroom floor.