The Steenkamp farm in Naauwhoek, Northern Cape. (Emile Hendricks, Volksblad)
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Kimberley – The mystery of the unknown fingerprint on a
cooldrink glass outside the Griekwastad farm murder house has likely been
solved, the Northern Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.
“There is a reasonable possibility that the print on
the glass was of Marthella Steenkamp,” fingerprint expert Phillip Bekker
told the court.
Judge President Frans Kgomo was hearing evidence in the
trial of a 17-year-old youth accused of killing Northern Cape farmer Deon
Steenkamp, 44, his wife Christel, 43, and their daughter Marthella, 14, on
their farm Naauwhoek, near Griekwastad, on 6 April 2012.
Warrant Officer Phillip Bekker, of the crime scene unit
and laboratory in Port Elizabeth, painstakingly testified on Tuesday afternoon
to the methods of fingerprint analysis used to come to his conclusion. Earlier
in the case the fingerprint on the cooldrink glass, found near the farm house’s
back door, remained a mystery.
Investigators had no comparable fingerprint on record to
identify the prints.
Investigators also indicated that police could not find
any record of the girlâ€™s fingerprints in the stateâ€™s record system.
On Tuesday, the court was told police seized a set of
Marthellaâ€™s schoolbooks to look for identifiable fingerprints.
Bekker testified that his analysis of prints on school
material and the glass indicated the girl held the glass.
“The prints point to each other, the normal position
for holding a glass in the left hand.”
Bekker told Kgomo the fingerprints on the glass were
those of a child or small adult. He asked the judge to hold his thumb over a
print for measure.
“It’s smaller [the lifted print],” said Kgomo.
There was no sign of any adult prints on the glass.
Bekker said even though he was able to only get five identifiable marks of a
fingerprint on the glass, it was a reasonable possibility the Steenkamp
daughter drank from the glass.
Seven identifiable points on a fingerprint was the
standard practice in South Africa.
Defence lawyers indicated they would only be able to
cross-examine Bekker after their expert looked at the evidence on Tuesday
On Tuesday, defence counsel William Coetzee did not
cross-examine two of the Stateâ€™s other expert witnesses.
They were DNA expert Lieutenant Cicilia Janse van
Rensburg and police ballistic expert, Warrant Officer Nosamose Nhlapo.
Janse van Rensburg testified to DNA tests done on the two
firearms used in the crime, and various clothing items the victims and the
accused had worn.
Nhlapo told the court evidence indicated that several
shots at the murder scene were fired from inside the house.
Damage to the wooden double door of the kitchen was from
a .357 revolver fired inside the house, Nhlapo said.
Items of the victims’ clothing had tested negative for
Nhlapo said there could be many reasons for this, such as
their being outside the range for propellant residue to settle.
The trial continues.