A witness in the infamous Oscar Pistorius trial has spoken out about the toll that testifying in the trial took on her and her husband.
Annette Stipp and her husband Johan live near Pistorius’s former home in Pretoria, where he shot and killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year.
The Stipps were witnesses for the prosecution.
Stipp said that testifying and the aftermath was “emotional, daunting, and exhausting.”
Stipp spoke to Karen Tewson, head of court preparation at the National Prosecuting Authority. Tewson published a research paper on witnesses and victims in trials, revealing that many are traumatized and suffer secondary victimization, often from cross-examination, reported Times Live.
The stress and negative experience may lead to witnesses and victims refusing to participate in court cases.
“Tewson’s research found that witnesses are often ’embarrassed’ about testifying in a room full of strangers in an ‘intimidating court environment,’ and by ‘often hostile’ cross-examination by lawyers who try to discredit them,” it said.
Stipp said she and her husband felt like they were “trampled by a bus” and were initially “terrified” to testify for the first time but that the build-up was worse than the reality.
The Stipps were attacked by Pistorius lawyer Barry Roux, who said that the testimonies were “exaggerated and contradictory” and said that they weren’t reliable.
“You feel you are being attacked personally. Your integrity is questioned. We felt that [we] were being attacked as [liars],” Stipp told Tewson.
A verdict in the Pistorius trial is coming in early September.