advertisement
Updated 01 March 2016

All said and done, we still don't know WHY Oscar shot Reeva

The evidence is at an end but the case is not over yet. Health24's CyberShrink looks closely at the red herrings and weak witness testimony and comes to the conclusion that we still don't know why Oscar killed Reeva. And then there's the mediocre social media analysis by Channel 199 ...

20
The 39 Steps : where have they led us?

So, after 39 days of drama, the evidence is at an end. The duff witnesses, sly legal manoeuvrings, the drama and the dull patches, are done. The plastic bucket can be retired.

The case is not yet over, of course.

We can still look forward to lengthy legal arguments by Nel and Roux, and then the verdict. Maybe Roux will finally reveal what, out of the buffet of excuses offered, is Oscar’s official plea.

Looking back, I’m pleased that my views, not always popular at the time, have usually held up well. At the start, the media were all buzzing about the forensic wonders to come, and how ballistics would solve the case.

Of course they didn’t. As I said, there was no doubt Oscar shot Reeva, and unless some definitive forensic data proved him to have lied about events, the forensics didn’t help at all.

The real question was always certain to be primarily psychological: WHY did he shoot her?

The prosecution was wrong not to have re-opened their case at the end and called their own psychiatrist and psychologist, to challenge some of the psychobabble we’ve heard. Sneaky tactics.

Roux’s final sneaky trick was the entirely unsupported claim that he had many witnesses he would have wanted to call, but who had refused to appear in court, not wanting even their voices to appear in the media.

Read: Oscar's witnesses are full of air

This is flatly ridiculous and manipulative. Was this a feeble excuse for the dreadful quality of the witnesses he did call?

Probably, he was trying to lay grounds for a later appeal, to claim that simply because the trial was broadcast, Oscar was denied a fair trial.

It’s extremely unlikely the defence lost any valuable witnesses at all. If anyone had been genuinely valuable they could have been compelled to attend and testify by subpoena. It’s not ideal, but possible, and Roux didn’t bother to do so.

Indeed, if these were more of the sort of witnesses he already called, he was better off without them. He had far too many lousy witnesses who seemed too eager to appear.

Read: Yawn, yawn, snooze - Oscar's defence potters around

There were wild claims that his case had been damaged by police mishandling of evidence. This was announced loudly by Oscar and his team from the start. Certainly the police initially on the scene did in some cases behave appallingly.

But they seem to have been sloppy rather than malicious. As they had no idea what the defence case would be, they couldn’t guess what would be worth deliberately tampering with.

Bad training, bad procedures, bad commanders not in command. The Court system has shown itself in a good light ; the police performance was dismal, but then it usually is.

Red herrings

Roux is a master at making an elaborate fuss about trivial matters, like the missing electrical lead. If it was really important, Oscar’s lawyers should have known from the start, and should have ensured that it was secured, recorded, and safely kept by the police.

Read: The failure of forensics and spare us the amateur psychobabble 

To suddenly demand it over a year later, even when the defence had been in control of the house for a lengthy period, when it could have been removed by anyone from the family or the Defence, perhaps in order to create an artificial objection later?

They had major forensic specialists available, and took their own photographs, recording what was present at the crime scene. If it mattered at all, they had an obligation to have objected at the time.

Promises, promises 

Does Oscar scream like a woman? We don’t know. Does a cricket bat on a Meranti door sound like a gunshot? We don’t know. And so on.

Read: Just how far away can we hear someone scream

Roux so often promised vital evidence that never turned up. He’s surely not a hasty or incautious lawyer.

One continues to wonder what went wrong with all the elaborate tests, experts, and evidence that was advertised.

Did it really all turn out more supportive of the State’s case than Oscar’s? That’s what seems most likely, in the absence of any explanation for all the broken promises. He ought not to have put so vigorously to witnesses, statements he wasn’t certain he could and would prove.

The Oscar Channel

Until recently, “channelling” was something a spiritualist did when claiming to bring us the voices of the dead. Now Oscar had his own personal channel. And, all credit to its producers, it did try honourably to bring also the voice of Reeva, the victim, otherwise so easily overlooked in such cases.

Read: What did Reeva's messages mean?

Channel 199 has done a brilliant job overall, efficiently showing us the proceedings, and generally excellent expert commentators.

A few were dreadful, especially the psychologists, with some dazzling exceptions, like Dr Leonard Carr. The lawyers were broadly excellent, and some outstanding.

Their forensic experts varied, and Lobo Das Neves of the International Law Enforcement Institute was sublime. Televising the trial has provided outstanding public education, of great social value.

Though Roux will have to somehow drum up excuses for an appeal, it’s hard to see how televising the trial caused him any prejudice. If anything, it probably helped.

Although we could see for ourselves Oscar’s lousy performance in the witness box, and his sub-optimal witnesses, that merely revealed more widely what was wrong with their case ; it didn’t make it go wrong. Don’t shoot the messenger, even if he uses the loo.

Read: Who is nuts, Oscar, or his defence?

Ja, well, no fine

Yesterday, I pointed out, sensibly, that it seemed strange that Roux was not calling Dr Fine, the member of the observation panel he had himself nominated. Oddly, Roux didn’t reveal the reasons for this.

On Tuesday he told the court that Dr Fine, who unfortunately suffered a heart attack recently, was not medically fit to appear in court. Entirely understandable, and let us all wish Dr Fine a prompt and thorough recovery.

The Fallacy of Social Media Analysis

Channel 199 was weakened by a silly obsession with “Social Media”, and absurd, wholly unscientific and invalid analyses of tweets.

They provided truly massive free publicity for some companies selling such analyses, but without even a breath of critical assessment of whether these methods have any validity or value, only breathless praise and puffery.

What nonsense to get in a lather about counting tweets, lumping the dim-witted, the witless and the witty in one big pile. Every day they exclaimed in wonder at how there were more tweets from America than from South Africa.

But very obviously, there are very many more tweeters in the USA than in Africa. At no time did I notice any real attempt at proper scientific analysis of the piles of numbers so glibly and proudly presented.

If you want to compare tweets from SA and USA, give me hard data about the number of people online in each country, the number who tweet (already an unrepresentative sub-set), and even whether you’re comparing the same times of day; not midnight in one country and midday in another.

Throughout this whole trial, nothing of the slightest substantial value has emerged from all the Twitter froth.

Read more:

Why Oscar was sent for 30 days observation
The astonishing testimony of the geologist Mr Dixon
Has Oscar lost the plot?

Professor MA Simpson is Health24's CyberShrink. A South African psychiatrist, he qualified in medicine and in psychiatry in Britain. He has been a senior academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries. Read more of his columns.

 

More:

Columnists
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
20 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Exercise benefits for seniors »

Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.