Paralympian’s Malawian housekeeper was staying at his house the night he shot his girlfriend dead but ‘heard nothing’ and will not give evidence at murder trial
A Malawian housekeeper was staying at Oscar Pistorius’s house on the night Reeva Steenkamp was killed but “heard nothing” and will not be called by either the State or the defence team to give evidence in the athlete’s murder trial, it has emerged.
Frank Chiziweni is understood to have slept in the domestic quarters next to Pistorius’s kitchen on the ground floor of his home on a security estate outside Pretoria.
On the night Pistorius shot Steenkamp, neighbours living up to 170 metres away claimed they were woken by sounds of an argument, shots and screams then a man shouting for help.
Pistorius told the court during his evidence that he screamed and shouted at the intruder he believed was in his home, as well as screaming to his girlfriend to call police.
After he realised the model was behind the locked lavatory door into which he fired his gun four times, he said he opened his balcony doors to call for help from his neighbours before beating the door down with a cricket bat.
“I was crying out. I was screaming ‘Reeva, Reeva’,” he told the court. “I was overcome with terror and despair. At times I was screaming, at times I was crying out.” Mr Chiziweni, the closest person by far to the events of St Valentine’s Day last year after Pistorius and Steenkamp themselves, is understood to have told police he slept through the entire incident.
He was mentioned by name for the first time yesterday, just over two months after the start of the 27-year-old athlete’s trial for the premeditated murder of his girlfriend, 29.
Carice Viljoen, a friend of Pistorius whose father he rang moments after shooting the model through a locked lavatory door of his home, said when she arrived at the house, “Frank” was standing in the road with the estate security guards.
The housekeeper has been referred to in several profiles of Pistorius, a world-famous Paralympic athlete, written before the shooting.
In one, written in October 2011, he is reported to be asked by Pistorius, who addresses him as “brother”, to bring him his prosthetic legs. In another, written the following year, he is referred to as a “live-in caretaker who keeps his home spotless”.
A policeman who arrived at the scene an hour after the shooting confirmed Mr Chiziweni had been sleeping in a room off the kitchen and was awake when they arrived.
He said the man spoke good English. “We said to him, you were here. What did you hear?” the policeman said, adding that he had replied: “No, no, no, I didn’t hear anything”.
He said police had been unconvinced by his response: “We were all asking ourselves how he could not have heard anything,” he said.
Barry Roux, Pistorius’s barrister, *said the defence would not be asking Mr Chiziweni to come to court to give evidence. *“He says he was asleep. We’re not going to be calling him.” Despite being listed as a prosecution witness, a source for the State said they would not call him either, confirming he told police in his statement he heard “absolutely nothing”.
Asked why the defence would not call Mr Chiziweni either, the source responded: “He is an employee of Mr Pistorius’s. What you don’t hear can be as damaging as what you do.”
The housekeeper is the second member of South Africa’s massive but often invisible domestic worker class to be referred to in the murder trial.
Dr Johan Stipp, a neighbour and radiologist who gave evidence about going to Pistorius’ house to offer medical assistance after the shooting, made mention of a “servant” who lived on his property.
His wife Anette Stipp said the domestic worker also heard a woman screaming around the time of the shooting, but she was never called to give evidence.
The case continues.