On Wednesday, the Defence’s expert witness, Dr Antonel Olckers, faced her third day of cross-examination from State Prosecutor Susan Galloway. The questioning of this expert, the Defense’s first witness, is expected to conclude tomorrow.

During the trial last week, the subject of qualitative and quantitative data was told to the court by Olckers in her testimony, and how both of these aspects of forensic science had to be paid equal attention to in order to draw one balanced, scientific conclusion from findings of both.

This was mentioned again today, with the witness describing the processes used for both, and how her findings lead her to believe that Otto had only analysed one of these aspects, qualitative, and not quantitative. Therefore, her argument to the court is that how could a scientific answer been concluded by only following one aspect?

Another point touched on by the Defense last week was the presence of a foreign DNA profile gleaned from the crime scene. It arose again today in court and Galloway put it to the witness to describe its implication in the trial.

Olckers painted the picture of how this foreign DNA did not match any other patterns found in evidence, saying it could be a low-level profile due to it ‘peaking’ under analysis. Galloway confirmed with the witness that it is not an allele (each of two or more alternative forms of a gene that arise by mutation and are found at the same place on a chromosome).

The State prosecutor wanted to know more, and asked the witness to explain to the court about its importance. Judge Desai leaned in with intent, asking Olckers about “its effect” to this trial. The DNA expert was unable to pinpoint exactly what it means – it could well have been left from the first responders on scene or from the Van Breda’s domestic worker Precious Munyongani.

“Inconsequential” was Desai’s take on the matter when hearing the results of Galloway’s cross-examination with the witness, who cast serious doubt if this potential low-level profile actually means anything at all. The case would seem to be closed in this regard.

Tomorrow we expect the cross-examination of Olckers to conclude.


Photography Megan-leigh Heilig

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