Oscar Pistorius’ watches went missing under police guard

PRETORIA. A former South African police officer has said he was “furious” when two of Oscar Pistorius’ watches went missing from the crime scene.

PRETORIA. A former South African police officer has said he was “furious” when two of Oscar Pistorius’ watches went missing from the crime scene.

Col Schoombie van Rensburg told the murder trial he ordered his officers to be body-searched for the “expensive” watches, but they were not found.

He also said an officer had handled Pistorius’ gun without wearing gloves.

Pistorius denies murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, saying he mistook her for an intruder.

The prosecution says he intentionally shot Steenkamp after an argument at his house on Valentine’s Day 2013.

Friday’s hearing has now been adjourned and the trial continues on Monday.

Col Van Rensburg, who was initially in charge of the crime scene, said that when he first saw the watches he was worried about them and ordered them to be photographed because they “looked expensive”.

After returning to the main bedroom where a team of forensic experts was gathering evidence, he realised one watch, said to be worth as much as $10,000 was missing. He said he was told Pistorius’ sister Aimee had come into the room and removed it.

After leaving the room again, another watch went missing, so he gave instructions for the police officers and their cars to be searched.

Col Van Rensburg said that after that, everyone entering and leaving the scene was thoroughly searched and entered into a log, presented in court.

He described his stunned reaction to the watches’ disappearance: “I said: ‘I can’t believe it. We were just there. How can this watch be gone?’”

He said he told Pistorius he should file a complaint, while he opened a case of theft.

The former officer, who retired last year, also told the court he was angry when he saw a ballistics expert handling Pistorius’ 9mm pistol without any gloves, and told him to put some on.

The admissions call into question the police’s handling of the crime scene, in a case that is likely to hinge on sensitive forensic evidence, correspondents say.

‘Trail of blood’

Col Van Rensburg also said he saw Pistorius with blood on his arm, while the court was shown a photograph of the South African Paralympic athlete with blood on his shorts and parts of his body.

Pistorius says he carried Steenkamp downstairs to try to save her.

On Thursday, Col Van Rensburg told the court in the capital, Pretoria, he had followed a “trail of blood” up the stairs after arriving at Oscar Pistorius’ home.

Before Col Van Rensburg began his testimony on Thursday, photographs of Steenkamp’s bloodied head and face were shown in court, prompting Pistorius to vomit. 

The athlete was sick several times on Monday while evidence from the post-mortem examination was presented to court and has also cried on several occasions.

The court was later told that photos of her body would be removed from the police file and not displayed in court.

Images of the deceased’s body are often shown during trials and the decision could fuel a perception that South African courts give special treatment to the rich and famous.

The trial, now in its 10th day, is expected to call on more than 100 witnesses. It had been set to last for three weeks but looks likely to be extended.

 

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