Court focuses on Reeva’s last meal

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Defence advocate Barry Roux File photo: Siphiwe Sibeko

Pretoria - Defence advocate Barry Roux on Tuesday morning began his cross-examination of forensic pathologist, Professor Gert Saayman, by asking what the wounds Reeva Steenkamp sustained would do to her cognitive ability.

On Monday, Saayman told the court of the major injuries Steenkamp sustained and how any of the wounds to on her arm, hip or head could have alone killed her quickly.

But he said the hip and arm injury would not have necessarily marked her mental abilities, but that the head injury would obviously have affected her.

Saayman on Monday said that from his post-mortem analysis, it appeared Steenkamp had likely eaten about two hours before her death at 3am. This put a damper on Pistorius's version of events that the couple had gone to sleep at 10pm.

On Tuesday morning, Saayman was questioned about the small amount of urine in Steenkamp's bladder.

Roux said that if someone had had a cup of coffee or tea earlier in the evening, there would be more urine present.

But Saayman said that depending on various physiological factors, the rate of production of urine could be different on a person by person basis, but that one could have expected more.

Roux then asked about some of the articles Saayman had used as referral documentation when conducting his post-mortem.

The court took an adjournment so that Roux could familiarise himself with the material.

Roux questioned Saayman's analysis that Steenkamp's stomach showed she had eaten food a few hours before her death, and Saayman confirmed that depending on the type of food and from person to person, the time to digest could vary.

But he said that throughout his testimony, he had always precursored his theories with the warning that the time frames were educated estimates and not an exact science.

He admitted that more tests could have provided a better time frame, but that it would not have come to a more reliable conclusion.

However, Saayman could not provide to the court the percentage of the last meal that was found in Steenkamp's stomach.

Roux presented a journal article that differed somewhat from Saayman's testimony of digestive time periods, trying to show the uncertainty of being able to know when Steenkamp had eaten.

But Saayman continued to stress that after about 4 to 6 hours after a meal, the human stomach is empty and Steenkamp's was not.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked, in his re-examination, if the contents of Steenkamp's bladder would have been different if she had been awake for two hours prior to death.

If she had been awake an hour prior to her demise, she could have voided her bladder earlier, and that her bladder could have been empty.

Meanwhile, Judge Thokozile Masipa told the court on Tuesday morning that broadcasters would be submitting content packages on Saayman's testimony to determine if they were suitable to be televised. She then told the court that tweeting and live blogging would be allowed.

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