‘Reeva ran away screaming’

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IOL SAFRICA-PISTORIUS_0410_11 REUTERS Oscar Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day last year. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

Pretoria - Terrified, blood-curdling screams that rang out in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year were made by Reeva Steenkamp as she ran away from her boyfriend’s bedroom to lock herself in the toilet.

The pair had an argument with the sliding door open, enabling neighbours to hear the early morning commotion.

“I will say that she ran away screaming. That door was open when you and the deceased had an argument,” prosecutor Gerrie Nel said as he worked to disprove Oscar Pistorius’s version that he and Steenkamp had gone to bed a loving couple on the night of February 13 last year.

But advocate Barry Roux SC objected, saying it had never been the State’s case that Steenkamp had run to the bathroom screaming.

“Witnesses said they heard a woman screaming. The only reasonable inference from (this) circumstantial evidence is that there was an argument,” Nel said.

The “screaming part I can understand”, said Roux, who had mostly sat quietly as Pistorius tied himself into knots.

Copy of PN Oscar28379 State prosecutor Gerrie Nel was unrelenting in his cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius on Thursday, disagreeing with several of his statements. Picture: Werner Beukes SAPA

The Paralympian’s version is that he had spoken to Steenkamp shortly before taking two fans inside and closing the door.

How and when Steenkamp got up from the bed to go to the bathroom, he had no idea.

“The direction I was facing was towards the door. I don’t know when she got up. I was facing the opposite direction. It was pitch black,” he said.

Nel disagreed, questioning how Pistorius, being just 2m from the bed, could not have seen Steenkamp.

“You are there, just 2m away and you tell me you didn’t see her get up… and you didn’t hear her get up?” Nel asked.

Pistorius’s response was: “I had the fans blowing in my face.”

With Steenkamp sleeping on the right side of the bed, she would have walked behind Pistorius, right to where he was standing as he put on the fans when she went to the bathroom, Nel suggested.

“If she got out on the right side (of the bed), you would have seen her? In your version, (you) exclude the fact that she got up from the right hand side,” Nel asked.

“That’s correct,” said Pistorius, suggesting Steenkamp would have rolled over to the left side of the bed where he had been sleeping to get out of the bed and go to the bathroom.”

“You see, Mr Pistorius, your version is a lie,” said Nel, adding that the fan Pistorius said he was moving from the door had been inside all along.

While Pistorius would not give in to Nel’s tough questioning around the events of February 14 last year, he conceded to having been reckless with his firearm magazine.

His plea on the firearm charges had been not guilty, but he admitted under cross-examination to being negligent, saying he “sometimes forgot to lock” his magazine in a safe when he was not home.

“At least we understand that sometimes you are negligent with your other magazines,” Nel said.

Pistorius said: “That’s correct.”

However, he remained resolute in his conviction that he never pulled the trigger when a firearm went off at a packed, trendy Tashas restaurant in Melrose Arch, Rosebank, last January.

“Why did you plead not guilty?” Nel asked.

Pistorius said: “I did not discharge the firearm.”

But when Nel asked if he “had the firearm when the shot went off”, he said “yes”.

Asked Nel: “Is that not a discharge?”

Pistorius said he did not remember having his finger on the trigger, and that the firearm discharged as he was trying to keep it safe.

“So I must then accept that the gun went off by itself?” Nel asked.

Pistorius said: “The firearm went off in my possession. I was trying to make the firearm safe and in the process of keeping it safe it went off.”

He admitted to not checking the magazine, saying: “It was a mistake.”

Pistorius would also not admit to being reckless when Nel brought up an incident at a party at the Vaal Dam, where he had left his loaded firearm unattended in a boat as he went for a swim.

“You don’t think that is negligent? A loaded firearm, one up… and you leave it there (lying on a towel) while you go swimming?”

Pistorius said: “I didn’t see it as negligence.

“There was no one there who could handle my firearm.”

He could also not remember how he carried his gun at that party as he wore shorts, possibly without a shirt on.

“I can’t make up a story about where my firearm would have been. It would have been concealed on my person.

“I’m not sure if I was wearing a shirt or not. I don’t remember,” he said.

Also, what transpired in court was that his father Henke never made an affidavit indicating that the .38 ammunition found in Pistorius’s safe belonged to him.

It was revealed that Pistorius and his father have not spoken for years and that Pistorius was not home when the bullets were stored.

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