Today, the testimony of Defence expert witness Dr Antonel Olckers reached its conclusion, bringing an end to a week of gruelling cross-examination by the State.

Galloway again spent time cross-examining the witness on her experience. As we already know, her strength lies primarily in the academic and administrative aspects of forensic science.

“You still have very little‚ if any‚ experience in a forensic science laboratory,” she said.

Olckers strongly disagreed, shrugging off Galloway’s suggestion that she has very little practical experience in forensic lab work. Despite a career with limited lab time, the doctor’s experience in the field and impressive CV cannot be ignored.

And yet, testified on Lt. Col. Sharlene Otto’s scientific analysis, claiming the State’s DNA expert had taken in qualitative data over quantitative data.

The State prosecutor touched on the subject of cross-contamination with the witness. The question was posed to Olckers if there had “definitely” been any contamination of samples, expecting a yes-or-no answer. The expert in the stand was unable to provide a simplified answer (to the displeasure of Desai) and summarised in her own words “SOP’s had not been followed”.

Under re-examination, Advocate Matthys Combrink asked the witness why Marli’s DNA had not been found on the axe. Olckers again said that this is unexplainable, however, touch DNA from the sister of the accused was found on the object, which was almost certainly from a time in the past where she had handled it. The witness told the court that touch DNA does not have a timeline associated with it under forensic analysis therefore it’s impossible to tell when Marli had previously handled it.

Numerous references were also made to a case dating back to 2004, The State vs. Orrie, where Olckers had previously consulted in her capacity as a forensic expert – and not as a witness – for the Defence team who represented the now-convicted Orrie brothers. Advocate Susan Galloway told the court how the judge in that case had reprimanded the forensic expert, saying that ten court days had been wasted, as she had reached an “extraordinarily far-reaching conclusion” based on her findings, which he added was not the actual “accuracy of the DNA tests”.

On Monday, 13th October, we’ll be introduced to the next witness to testify for the Defence, a neurologist based in Kwa-Zulu Natal named Dr Michael Denis Du-Trevou. Follow us on Twitter for live updates when the van Breda murder trial resumes.

Photography K-leigh Siebritz / HM Images

Article written by

Justin Williams

Justin Williams is a born-and-bred Capetonian with a flair for writing. His icons include the late South African authors Lawrence Green, Eric Rosenthal and T.V. Bulpin, literary figures who continuously inspire him to cover the avenues of lifestyle, travel and nature in a local context. When Justin's not covering a story, he can be found in the mountains - he's a renowned wild food forager and is currently learning herbalism.