Cover for me, pleaded Oscar

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Copy of ST PG 3 SEC osc5th667.JPG INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Boxer Kevin Lerena was hit by bullet in restaurant. Picture: Chris Collingridge

Pretoria - “Please take the blame for me.” It was January 21 last year, just over three weeks before he gunned down Reeva Steen-kamp, when Oscar Pistorius discharged a firearm in a packed restaurant in Melrose.

While he was apologetic, he asked a friend to take responsibility. “There’s too much media attention,” he told his friend.

Testifying on Wednesday, cruiserweight boxer Kevin Lerena said he was having drinks at the Tashas restaurant in Melrose Arch with Pistorius, Darren Fresco and Martin Rooney when Fresco passed a gun to Pistorius under the table.

“Darren Fresco passed the gun to Pistorius. A shot went off in the restaurant and then there was complete silence. I looked down and there was a hole on the floor. I went to the bathroom to wipe blood – I was grazed,” said Lerena.

Pistorius’s version, however, is that the gun accidentally discharged as he did not hear Fresco warning him that “there was one up”, indicating that there was a bullet in the chamber.

“What Mr Pistorius is saying is that if Mr Fresco had told him that the firearm was one-up, he didn’t hear that because the restaurant was noisy. I’m not saying Mr Fresco didn’t say it. I’m saying Mr Pistorius didn’t hear it. Would it make sense when I told you Mr Pistorius didn’t hear?” asked Roux.

Lerena said: “I cannot speak for Mr Pistorius and I cannot speak on noise because I am not an expert.”

Roux said the gun was passed underneath the table because Pistorius wanted to be safe.

“He says he was utterly shocked. He says he was angry and confronted Mr Fresco about why he would want to give him a firearm that was one up and had a magazine. He was upset… was concerned that someone could have been hurt,” said Roux.

While Lerena said Pistorius was very apologetic, he could not confirm his version that he confronted Fresco.

His cross-examination was delayed after Roux told the court the State had not informed him that Lerena would be testifying.

Jokingly, he said: “I’m not sure I want to cross-examine a boxer.” The matter was then stood down for two hours.

Tashas’s owner Jason Loupis told the court that when he heard what sounded like a gunshot, he thought it was possibly a balloon.

Fresco had taken the rap, apologising and saying the gun discharged after it got caught in his pants. “I said ‘Are you serious? This is not a joke’,” said Loupis.

The men apologised and then asked for the bill.

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