Ballistics Expert Talks About Reeva Steenkamp’s Last Moments


By Oliver Ngwenya    20-Mar-2014 14:13 UTC+02:00
Barry Roux and Kernny Oldwage Outside the North Gauteng High. Photo: Sowetanlive

Oscar Pistorius’s defence lawyers Barry Roux and Kernny Oldwage Outside the North Gauteng High Court. Photo: Sowetanlive.

The Oscar Pistorius saga rages on. The star Paralympian is appearing before Judge Thokozile Masipa in the North Gauteng High Court following an incident that happened on the morning of Valentines Day in 2013 when he shot and killed his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He admits that he shot her four times but insists that it was in error. He apparently mistook her for a burglar and shot at her through the closed door of the bathroom. The prosecution, on the other hand, argue that it was a premeditated murder.

Day 13 of the murder trial called to the stand ballistics expert, Captain Christaan Mangena who attended the scene of the crime and analysed both the scene and the victim to come up with an idea of how she met her end. Captain Mangena brought to the witness stand vast experience in his field.

According to the ballistics expert, Reeva was standing facing the door of the bathroom when the first shot was fired. It entered her hip bone and consequently broke it. As a result, she was thrown against the magazine rack which was in the toilet. Falling onto the magazine rack protected her from the second bullet since it missed her.  However, that is where her luck ended. That bullet apparently ricocheted and then hit her causing some bruises to various parts of her body.

Captain Mangena contends that if she had fallen to the floor and not on the magazine rack, the rest of the other bullets would have missed her.  Most probably because she knew she was in danger and that she was injured, Reeva went unto a defensive position, wrapping her arms around her head. Ironically, it is this position that opened up her chest cavity to the third bullet which went into her chest. The police ballistics guru believes that it was the fourth and final bullet that was the most fatal. He believes that this bullet went through her arm and straight into her head. Owing to the nature of the bullets used by Oscar, it broke up inside Ms Steenkamp’s head and one fragment exited on the other side while the other went out through the back of her head. She then collapsed onto her right side  ending up on the toilet seat.

When quizzed about the shooter’s position at the time of the shooting, Captain Mangena intimated that it was difficult to say with certainty and gave a range of between about half a meter to three meters. He also added that the position of the cartridges was not useful in giving the position of the shooter. He went on to concur with the defence’s version of what transpired on the day when he responded to the prosecution by saying that, in his opinion, it was more likely that Oscar was on his stumps when he fired the gun. The only point of deviation of his evidence with the defence was that the bullets were fired in two short bursts. He argues that, if that had been the case, all the bullets would have been discharged into the abdominal area. The defence disagreed and their leader, Barry Roux made no bones about his intention to challenge this. When he was released from the witness box, the prosecution put another police veteran and expert onto the stand.

Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned the trial until Monday after the state prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked for more time to consult with the last witnesses. Nel said the case will be wrapped up early next week.


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