After reading reports in the newspaper accusing Oscar Pistorius of taking acting lessons to â??improveâ?? his performance in court, probation officer, Yvette van Schalkwyk felt compelled to offer her services to the defence.
Gerrie Nel objected to calling Van Schalkwyk to the stand
Advocate Gerrie Nel for the state objected to the introduction of Van Schalkwyk as a witness, and questioned the relevance of her testimony. â??What are we dealing with?â? he asked the court. â??Is this to do with a previous inconsistent statement?â?
Advocate Barry Roux said that it had nothing to do with a previous inconsistent statement. â??It has to do with the cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius, and how the prosecution accused him of being insincere. We are entitled to call evidence to rebut this accusation,â? answered Roux. â??It deals with relevance and gives the full picture and emotions to the court. The court can decide what weight to attach to that.â?
Judge Masipa agreed with Roux. â??We cannot separate what Mrs van Schalkwyk saw and what she heard. It is relevant Mr Nel.â?
Van Schalkwyk was assigned to monitor Pistorius during and after his bail hearing
â??The morning that he appeared in court for the bail hearing, the court asked me to speak to Oscar and accompany him. I donâ??t know why, but I assumed it was for emotional support and to monitor his behaviour. I did not have any connection to defence at that stage,â? said Van Schalkwyk.
â??I was requested to testify last year and didnâ??t think I could contribute, but after reading what was said about the accused, I wanted to tell my version.â?
Van Schalkwyk said that, from the first second that she saw Pistorius, she saw a man who was â??heartbroken about his lossâ?. She said that he cried and was in mourning and was aware of the suffering of Steenkampâ??s parents. â??That was the theme throughout the time I saw him. It was mainly about Reeva and the loss. As the probation officer, I saw a heartbroken man. He cried 80% of the time. He talked to me about what they planned for the future, her family, what her mother and father were going through,â? she said.
Reports from bail hearing show Pistorius was cooperative
Barry Roux asked Van Schalkwyk to read through some of her reports from the time of the bail hearing. All of the reports noted that Pistorius was very cooperative, but was very heartbroken and was dealing with a lot of traumatic emotions. He was referred to a state psychologist in order to process these emotions.
During cross-examination, Nel asked Van Schalkwyk whether she had ever met with an accused immediately after an incident. She said that Pistorius was the first accused that she had spent time with shortly after a traumatic incident. The first day she saw Pistorius was on Friday, 15 February 2013.
Pistorius never said â??Iâ??m sorryâ?
Nel asked Van Schalkwyk whether Pistorius had ever said â??Iâ??m sorry that I killed Reevaâ? during their time together before or during the bail hearing. She said that she had seen a very traumatised man who was dealing with the loss of someone he loved. He had told her that he missed Reeva, and he was concerned about Reevaâ??s parents, but had never actually said those words.
Nel pointed out that most people are traumatised after being arrested.
Van Schalkwyk said that she couldnâ??t comment on the merits of the case, but that later on, Pistorius had said that he had accidentally shot Steenkamp.
Nel pounced on this statement, questioning Van Schalkwyk on the exact words used. â??So he said he accidentally shot her? The defence says he thought he was under attack. But he told you that he accidentally shot her?â?
Van Schalkwyk said that Pistorius had told her many things, but that he had highlighted the fact that he accidentally shot Steenkamp.
â??Itâ??s all about him, isnâ??t it?â? questioned Nel.
â??Itâ??s about emotions, and what he was going through at that stage and the traumatic situation,â? answered Van Schalkwyk. â??He was never asking â??what is going to happen to me?â?? I canâ??t state that it was all about him. He was in a relationship with Reeva, she was his loved one.â??