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Updated 02 March 2016

We’ve been punked. The Oscar trial gets truly ridiculous.

The defence has continued to be bewildering, but on Thursday it became really foolish, to the point that I expected Ashton Kutcher to leap out and giggle at us.

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A Last Supper?

First we had an anaesthetist who was rather like a strict headmistress and seemed both unused to being challenged at all, and prepared to scold Mr. Nel for being disagreeable. “Is that a question? “ she’d snort, indignantly.

She was brought in to argue that gastric emptying is so muddled a field that nothing can be predicted from stomach contents.

Read: What does the contents of Reeva's stomach say?

She seemed content to accept Oscar’s unsupported claim that Reeva slept from early evening till shortly before her death and would apparently have been happy to operate on Ms. Steenkamp at 3 a.m. She also seemingly considers yoga to be a form of vigorous exercise.

The Achy Breaky Heart

But then came the nuttiest contribution yet, something I have never before seen allowed in any court of law. Roux called an absurd witness who had absolutely nothing of the faintest value to contribute to the case.

She is the probation officer who saw Oscar after his arrest and around the bail hearing, “to provide emotional support” and to check that he kept to his bail conditions.

But though nothing about his state at those times is of any relevance to this trial, and she has no relevant skills to reliably assess or comment on his state, she did so anyway.

Because she wanted to.

She was not an expert witness. But she was upset at reading in a newspaper a suggestion that Oscar might have been faking his emotional outbursts while testifying, and had rushed to the Defense offices insisting that she be brought to court to “give us her impression” and to tell us, so repeatedly, that when she saw him he was “broken-hearted”.

She hadn’t actually been in court while he testified, and hadn’t even watched the trial on TV, but had no doubt that what she saw of his emotions over a year ago, somehow magically proved that his emotions in Court this year must be totally genuine and sincere.

Read: Why was Oscar vomiting in court?

She spoke like a star-struck Pistorian, speaking as a naïve amateur, and without objectivity, as she accepted and believed every word he uttered without question or doubt.

She kept emphasizing how “heart-broken” he was, and how much he had wept. She admitted that despite her claim to 24 years of experience of something or other, this was the first and only time she had ever met someone so soon after they’d killed someone, and had no relevant experience. She managed to make Dixon seem profound.

The real question has to be why on earth Roux called her, indeed why he had rushed her into court as early as possible after she called him, and why even the judge didn’t seem to wonder why she was there, even though irrelevant.

Can we all now claim a right to intervene in such trials if we’re bothered by some comment in a newspaper ?

Again, it looks more as though Oscar may be calling the shots. Erm, maybe I should say calling the tune.

He may have insisted that someone so obviously highly sympathetic to him should be rushed to the witness stand. It’s harder to believe that a highly experienced Advocate would have easily selected her as a vital witness.

Not Yeti, not Yeti …. then here he is at last

There should have been a drum-roll, but finally Mr. Wolmerans, the legendary ballistics expert, actually did take the stand. There have been so many sightings and reports he was about to appear, he seemed at time more like the Yeti, the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, than someone any of us would live long enough to hear from.

Read: 10 Things you should know about ballistics
Then here he was, large, shaggy, and a very, very boring but nice guy. Long-winded, but he may ultimately prove both interesting and important, if we can stay awake long enough and concentrate well enough, to notice.

He’s a bit deaf, but then he has spent years working with a lot of really loud bangs, so maybe it’s an occupational hazard.

Maybe, after all, Oscar Screams like a man?

Isn’t it interesting that when earlier witnesses said they’d heard a woman scream, Roux told us Oscar “screams like a woman” and promise this would be proved by his expert witnesses.

Read: Just how far away can you hear someone scream?

Yet both his closest neighbours who heard him screaming and crying, even though not sure who or where it was, and though they described it as high-pitched, definitively, from the start identified it as a man’s voice, thinking it might have been one of the security guards.

And none of them heard all the bangs more distant witnesses heard, whether shots or bats.

At home, we’re guessing who the next weird witness will be. Any suggestions?

Read more opinion pieces on the trial by Prof Simpson:

Melodramatics, bias and the mystery of the dog in the night 
Oscar's defence potters around 
Inside Oscar's support group 

Ask CyberShrink your pressing mental health questions

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.

 

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