OSCAR AND THE 8-MINUTE CALL TO HIS MYSTERIOUS BABYSHOES
In this extract from their book, Behind The Door: The Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp Story, Barry Bateman and Mandy Wiener track the athlete’s phone calls in the hours before he shot and killed his girlfriend. They discover a 522-second call to ‘Babyshoes’
Perhaps the greatest mystery lingering after the phone experts left the witness stand was ‘What was on the iPhone?’ For many, it seemed obvious the answer to the question of motive lay hidden between the metal and glass of the handset.
As the contents of that phone were largely wiped, it was difficult for investigators to establish conclusively what activity took place via that phone. However, they did have phone records from Vodacom, which formed part of the exhibits. This meant they could see who Oscar had been talking to or exchanging messages with, but they could not see the contents of those messages or know what the conversations were about.
Inexplicably, the prosecution team and the investigators chose not to lead any of this evidence in court.
We analysed the phone records by checking the call records against the data extracted from Oscar’s phone.
This allowed us to plot Oscar’s movements and who he was in contact with the day before he killed Reeva.
This was crucial as it provided insight into exactly how normal, or not, circumstances were in the hours leading up to the shooting. We juxtaposed this against Oscar’s own version of events in an attempt to finally answer one of the great mysteries lingering after the case.
Oscar’s first call that day was incoming, at 8.31am and lasted a mere 12 seconds. Searching Oscar’s contacts database identified the corresponding number: Ryan from Firzt realtors.
On the road to Johannesburg he phoned his manager Peet, and then tried to make contact with a banker from Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) at 9.40am. At about 10.20am, he called ‘Vayvay’.
Running a consumer search on the number linked it to sports journalist Vaylen Kirtley. They met on 13 February for breakfast in Melrose Arch.
Kirtley says the meeting was a catch-up of old friends.
Earlier, at 8.31am, Oscar received an SMS confirming the meeting he was to attend at a law firm. On his way from Melrose Arch, Oscar called the banker from RMB. The athlete had had his R4 million bond approved for his new home a week earlier. The call lasted nine minutes. After this he received a short call from David at Nike, one of his primary sponsors.
What Oscar did not mention in his testimony were the calls he made between his meeting at the law firm and his appointment with the property man. At 12.57pm he chatted to his friend Justin Divaris. And then at 12.58pm he spent four minutes on the phone with a model, whose name is known to us. Records show that since 1 January 2013 Oscar had called the model at least once a week.
Oscar went on to have his meeting with Ryan. After that, he went to Divaris’s shop.
Oscar called Reeva at 3.54pm – his last call before he got back on to the highway to head home.
On the way he spoke to his siblings Carl and Aimee, for about five minutes each. Reeva had popped out to buy food and called her boyfriend at 5.44pm. They chatted for two minutes before Oscar called his friend Alex Pilakoutas and then rugby player Wynand Olivier.
At 6.07pm, Oscar made one more call from his car and spoke to the person for nine minutes. Who was Oscar talking to? He was never asked. We cross-referenced the service provider report with the athlete’s contact book. It turned up a single name: ‘Babyshoes’.
Searching for this number turned up more than a dozen text messages and phone calls between Oscar and Babyshoes since 1 January 2013.
The first text message to Babyshoes was sent on New Year’s Day at 3.38am. On 11 January, the day Oscar discharged Fresco’s firearm in the Tashas restaurant, seven SMSes were sent from Oscar to Babyshoes. On the afternoon of 12 January, Reeva sent Oscar a message telling him she was feeling low, to which he responded that he believed he had a ‘beautiful connection’ with her. Past midnight on the following morning, Oscar sent three text messages to Babyshoes.
At 1.57pm on 27 January, Oscar called Babyshoes and chatted for 400 seconds. A study of the phone records shows the athlete doesn’t tend to spend a lot of time on the phone talking to people. A sevenminute conversation is an anomaly.
Two hours after this call, Reeva sent Oscar the WhatsApp message in which she says: ‘I’m scared of u sometimes.’
The next contact came on 6 February at 7.00am. The previous evening Reeva had sent Oscar a message saying she worried she cramped the athlete’s style. Amongst the first calls that day was to Babyshoes.
Two days later, on 8 February, at 10.39am, Oscar’s phone connected again to Babyshoes – this time for 12 minutes. According to the records, apart from his calls with Reeva, it was one of the longest conversations Oscar had had on his phone.
What was significant about the day? Reeva’s phone reveals she had sent Oscar a message about the fight the couple had had at the Virgin Active Awards, in which she said: ‘I regard myself as a lady and I didn’t feel like one tonight after the way u treated me when we left.’
It appeared when Oscar had a fight with his girlfriend and there was unhappiness, he had contact with Babyshoes. He called this person before arriving home on 13 February, although there is no evidence Oscar and Reeva argued that day.
Investigations revealed the phone number was used by Jenna Edkins ... Oscar’s girlfriend from 2008 until 2011. Samantha Taylor names her as being at the centre of her break-up with Oscar, just weeks before he met Reeva.
Jenna had vehemently defended the athlete on social media and was the only ex-girlfriend to be interviewed by the panel when Oscar was referred to Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital.
Jenna was not questioned by the police, nor was a statement taken from her. And Oscar made no mention of their conversation lasting 522 seconds on the evening of 13 February 2013 in his evidence-inchief – although he was never asked to detail all his calls.
The unavoidable question is why the state never pursued the possible relevance of this call and other communications with Jenna.
It is understood Hawks cellphone expert Captain Francois Moller had provided investigators with a list of the identities of the numbers on the service provider list, but no one had made the connection between Jenna’s father’s name and Oscar. The prosecuting authority declined to comment on questions we sent to them about this revelation.
‘It would be wrong to infer the state erred in not leading that info,’ a member of the state’s team suggested. ‘It would deal with character evidence, which the state is not entitled to lead. If there is no SMS or WhatsApp communication, how do we infer where we don’t know the content that something untoward was taking place. I don’t think it’s a big piece of evidence.’
A source close to the defence team is also at pains to explain this is no great revelation, that Oscar’s lawyers always knew about Edkins and had consulted with her, and this is certainly not the ‘smoking gun’ the public and the media have so desperately been searching for.
Evidence of the friendly relationship between Oscar and Jenna was also found in Oscar’s house.
In the upstairs TV lounge police took photographs of an A2 framed canvas picture collage featuring about 40 black-and-white pictures of Oscar and Jenna. On the reverse side is an intimate message from Jenna to Oscar in celebration of their relationship and his 22nd birthday.
Four years later and Oscar was dating a different blonde – Samantha Taylor. By July 2012 the relationship was collapsing when the athlete sent an email not only to Taylor, but to her mother as well.
In his outpouring of emotion, he revealed deepseated feelings towards Jenna Edkins.
It was evident while the athlete realised the relationship with Edkins was over, he still wanted to be friends with her because ‘she had been there with me through a lot’.
So, while Oscar had moved on to Reeva, who he would claim to have fallen in love with, he still maintained contact with Babyshoes.
While there is no evidence to suggest their relationship was anything other than friendship, it is nevertheless noteworthy that Oscar kept in touch with Edkins, made contact with her on occasions when he and Reeva appeared to have disagreements, and called her the day before that fateful Valentine’s Day.
Edkins declined to do an interview with us. In response to questions, she commented: ‘I do not wish to respond to mere allegations, for example, the allegations of Oscar calling me when he and Reeva had a fight or the statement given by Samantha are untrue. It is common knowledge Oscar and I have remained friends and I do not wish to be involved in any media hype around this terrible situation.’
On the eve of Valentine’s Day, Oscar arrived home while still on the phone to Edkins. It is a conversation police did not identify and Oscar did not speak about in his evidence.
Who was to say what relevance or consequence this could have had to the state’s case or if it would have swayed [ Judge Thokozile] Masipa at all if the police investigations had unearthed it?
SOMBRE MOMENT Oscar Pistorius extends his arms as if holding a firearm while having his measurements taken at Ergonomics Technologies in Centurion, Gauteng
PHOTO MEMORIES Jenna Edkins gave Oscar this collage as a birthday present. The police found it in the upstairs TV lounge at his home