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Defence grills witness over shots

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REUTERS

Oscar Pistorius speaks to an unidentified member of his legal team ahead of his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Picture: Themba Hadebe

Pretoria - Barry Roux's cross examination began harshly, saying that Burger was taking the stand to say that Pistorius was lying at his bail application.

At the application, Pistorius denied that there had been a fight between Reeva and himself prior to the shooting, and that he had suspected an intruder was behind that bathroom door.

She said she heard the gunshots, the screams and that Pistorius' testimony did not include some of these aspects.

Roux queried whether there could have been shots fired while burger was still asleep, and that she heard the screams after the shooting.

But Burger denied this saying that she was awoken by the sound of screams, and that she only heard four gunshots.

Roux suggested that the bangs she heard could have been Pistorius trying to break down the bathroom door with a cricket bat after the shooting.

He then asked about what Burger's husband had heard.

The brunette grew continuously angrier at the questions, saying her husband could speak for himself on the stand.

But Burger said her husband couldn't tell her whether he had heard four, five or six shots.

Roux questioned the truthfulness of her and her husband's version of events, which further incensed the witness.

But Burger said she was satisfied with her statement, and that it correctly reflected events of the night of the shooting.

She insisted that the emotional nature of the evening had etched the night into her memory.

It then emerged that the Afrikaans translator had been incorrect interpreting some of Burger's words, causing confusion in the cross-examination. Burger agreed to continue her testimony in English.

She said during the sounds of the shots, she heard the female voice screaming. Then she heard the woman's voice fading away after the shots.

She said she heard a voice just after the shots, and then there was silence.

Roux insisted that Burger was slowly altering her story to fill in any gaps of logic, and that she was “unsure” of her testimony.

Burger reiterated her story once again, stating the screaming woke her up, the shots occurred, and the screaming continued, but after the shots, there was silence.

“I was convinced that woman... She and her husband were being attacked in the house... Because of the fear in that woman's voice,” said Burger.

“It was the most helpless feeling I'd felt in my life,” she added.

But Roux asked if the screaming had intensified when the shots were fired, to which she agreed.

Roux produced a translated version of Burger's original statement to the court from her interview with investigators, to try and poke holes in what she told the court.

He said that she failed to mention the build up of the screams in her statement, and that she didn't mention multiple screams.

But Nel said that it would not be semantically correct to use the Afrikaans word for "screams" (plural). (gille?) in her sentence.

Roux continued to attack, however, saying that she failed to mention the intensity of the screams, specifically that they were "blood-curdling".

The defense advocate then suggested that she only knew there were four shots fired from what she heard after the incident.

But Burger insisted her testimony was accurate.

Roux posited that the bullets were fired prior to the screaming. And after Pistorius realised he had shot Steenkamp, he had been screaming and tried to bash open the door with a cricket bat.

He said the bashing of the door from a distance could have sounded like gunshots.

Roux also suggested to Burger that if Pistorius was in a panic, could it not be possible that she mistook a high pitched scream for that of a woman's.

But Burger said she heard two voices and could tell them apart.

She said she had no doubt it was two different people.

She also added that she would know the difference between a gunshot and the sound of a cricket bat hitting a door, specifically that a shot would be much louder.

Burger claimed to have visited a shooting range.

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