Gerrie Nel cast doubt on the objectivity of Stander and Viljoen’s testimony, given that Stander is Pistorius’s friend. He asked why if, as Stander had testified, there were security issues in the estate, Viljoen had testified to going to sleep with her balcony door open.
The court adjourned early because the defence had no more witnesses.
Pistorius’s neighbours Michael and Eontle Nhlengethwa testified for the defence at the start of the day’s proceedings. They were originally due to be state witnesses.
Michael Nhlengethwa testified that he did not socialise with Pistorius, but found him friendly. He testified to being woken by his wife on the night of the shooting after she had heard a loud bang. He then heard a man crying. He went to Pistorius’s house after seeing a security vehicle arrive there, and saw Pistorius kneeling over Steenkamp’s body.
In his cross-examination, Nel got Nhlengethwa to admit that, because he had been following the case, he knew what other neighbours had testified. He confirmed that he did not hear the shots, nor did he hear the sounds of the cricket bat hitting the door.
Eontle Nhlengethwa largely echoed her husband’s testimony.
The defence called Christina Lundgren, an anaesthetist from the University of the Witwatersrand, as the day’s first witness.
Lundgren testified about Steenkamp’s gastric contents. State witness Gert Saayman had earlier testified that Steenkamp’s stomach had contained traces of vegetables and cheese, which he suggested she had eaten as late as 01:00.
Although Lundgren is not a forensic pathologist, as an anaesthetist she has a thorough understanding of stomach’s food content. She explained that gastric emptying is not an exact science and Steenkamp’s stomach may not have emptied even if she had eaten at around 19:00, as Pistorius had testified.
Lundgren told Nel that she is not willing to dispute the opinion of a qualified pathologist and admitted that it is less probable that Steenkamp’s body did not break down the food that she had eaten at 19:00 than that she had last eaten at 01:00.
When Roux re-examined Lundgren, he pointed out that most of the discussion on gastric emptying so far (including Saayman’s testimony) was speculation. Lundgren agreed.
The defence called social worker Yvette van Schalkwyk as its next witness. Van Schalkwyk is a social worker who assessed Pistorius after the shooting.
Van Schalkwyk apparently offered to testify because she was unhappy about claims in the media that Pistorius has been taking acting lessons for his testimonies and that his emotional displays are insincere. She testified that Pistorius was “heartbroken” when she assessed him. Nel questioned the validity of these comments, but Roux argued that they were intended to show that Pistorius was self-centred and that he loved Steenkamp.
When Nel asked Van Schalkwyk what Pistorius had told her about the shooting, she said that he had said that he had accidentally shot Steenkamp. Nel picked up that she did not mention that Pistorius had thought Steenkamp was an intruder. She also conceded that Pistorius had never said he was sorry for killing Steenkamp. When Roux questioned Van Schalkwyk again, she said that Pistorius had mentioned to her that he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder.
The next witness was Tom Wolmarans, who calls himself an “independent forensic ballistics expert”. Wolmarans testified that the shots were fired in quick succession and that game ranger ammunition was used. He disputed the testimony of the state’s forensic experts.
Read about day 29 online.