Pretoria - On Friday, all attention turns to Oscar Pistorius, and his version of events on the fateful night he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp behind the toilet door of his eastern Pretoria home.
The State closed its case against Pistorius on Tuesday and his legal team has spent the past two days consulting possible witnesses to confirm his claim that the shooting was not murder, but a tragic accident as he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder.
Legal experts say Nel must feel that he has proved a prima facie case of murder at this stage, thus only calling 21 out of a list of 107 State witnesses.
Nel is known for being relentless at cross-examining an accused, and it is expected that the days ahead in the witness stand will not be easy for Pistorius.
He will have to explain why he believed his life and that of Steenkamp’s was under such threat in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year that it warranted him firing four shots into the toilet door.
It is expected that his advocate, Barry Roux, will also call a host of experts to try to prove the defence’s case. This will include a ballistics expert to testify about which shot had hit Steenkamp first and whether she could have screamed, as neighbours told court.
Interest in the trial is expected to pick up with Pistorius in the dock.
Pistorius’s family will be there as his support team, as they have since the trial began. This includes his sister Aimee, uncle Arnold and aunt Lois, as well as other family members who have daily escorted him in and out of the High Court in Pretoria, past a barrage of media and curious members of the public.
Also expected to attend is Steenkamp’s mother June, who is supported by Jackie Mofokeng, the ANC Women’s League Gauteng spokesperson. Mofokeng confirmed that the Women’s League would continue to support Steenkamp, as well as other women who had lost loved ones in violent crimes.
She said she was confident justice would be served in the trail.
Local and international media – some of whom have been absent attending to other news events – are expected to be back in force.
According to Eyewitness News editor Katy Katapodis, a presenter on the special Oscar Pistorius Channel 199, interest in the trial has been phenomenal.
The EWN live stream, blog and special channel have been a huge success, she said.
Interest in the live audio stream and TV broadcasts was exceptionally high in the first two weeks of the trial, after which it dropped off a bit, to spike again on Monday during evidence of the text messages between Pistorius and Steenkamp.
“I believe public interest in Oscar’s evidence-in-chief and cross-examination will far outstrip the interest in even the start of the trial, and possibly even more than on the day the news broke – it’s going to be huge,” she said.