Witness: I saw she was mortally wounded

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oscar notes mar 6 REUTERS Oscar Pistorius takes notes during the fourth day of his trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Picture: Marco Longari

Pretoria - The seventh witness to be called to the stand in Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial was Johan Stipp, who described the gruesome aftermath of the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp.

Stipp was another resident of Oscar Pistorius's Pretoria housing complex, Silverwoods Estate.

He, his wife, three children and their domestic worker were at home the night Steenkamp was killed.

Late that night, he was awakened by the sound of several bangs.

Moments later, he then heard the screams of a female, three or four times, Stipp said.

Stipp's home was about 72 metres away from Pistorius's.

When Stipp looked towards Pistorius's large home, he saw almost all the lights were on.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel established that Stipp had seen the lights of the bathroom where Steenkamp was shot were also on.

Stipp tried to call Silverwoods security, but could not get through.

While wondering who to call next, Stipp heard another three loud bangs. He told his wife to stay down, in case the sounds were gunshots.

He eventually got through to security, and was told guards were waiting for a manager, but would be attending the scene soon.

Stipp then put the phone down, went to the balcony and heard a male voice shouting: “Help, help, help”.

A short while later, security guards arrived outside Stipp's home, and from the balcony he told the guards to check out where the noises had come from.

He went back inside after checking the balcony again.

Stipp and his wife discussed whether he should go check what had happened, especially if it involved a family, or if someone had been hurt.

He got dressed and drove towards the house, and was told by nearby security guards to speak with estate manager, Johan Stander.

Stipp told the court he did not know who the home belonged to when he arrived at the house.

A man on a cellphone motioned Stipp towards the home, where he saw a woman standing in the doorway.

He told a woman standing in the door that he was a doctor, and saw another woman lying on the ground.

Stipp went inside, noticed a man on the left kneeling by her side, he had his left hand on her right groin, and two fingers of right hand in her mouth.

“I shot her... I thought she was a burglar, and I shot her,” the man, known now to be Pistorius, told Stipp.

Through photos presented to the court, Stipp identified Steenkamp as the woman he had tried to help.

He tried to open her airways, look for signs of life.

In graphic detail, Stipp told the court about his examination of Steenkamp. She had no pulse, was not breathing, and her mouth was clenching down on Pistorius's fingers.

Stipp opened her right eyelid. Her pupil was dilated and the cornea was milky, drying out.

“To me it was obvious she was mortally wounded,” said Stipp.

He noted she had wounds in her thigh and arm, and blood in her hair. Brain tissue was escaping her skull.

Pistorius was crying all the time. He prayed to God, asking for her not to die, Stipp said.

The witness said at one point that Pistorius vowed to dedicate his life to God if she survived.

Throughout the testimony, Pistorius covered his head.

Stipp eventually went outside, spoke to Stander, who he told to call paramedics. Netcare 911 was called and Stander handed Stipp the phone, and he explained to the dispatcher what had happened.

Pistorius stood by her side for some time, Stipp said.

Only later did Stipp notice Pistorius going upstairs, and Stipp asked Stander if he knew where the gun was.

Stipp was worried that Pistorius was going to hurt himself.

After the ambulance arrived, Stipp went back home where he told his wife about what had happened.

But at around 4.17am, Stipp was called by Stander to say Pistorius's lawyer would probably be in touch.

Reporters tweeting at the scene said Pistorius reacted strongly to Stipp's evidence in court, variously reporting that Pistorius was dry heaving, swaying and weeping.

Nel asked Stipp about how he made his police statement.

Stipp had gone to work the next morning, when his wife called him and told him who the victim was and whose house Stipp had been in.

Stipp said he was surprised, but it was only the next day when he inquired about how to contact the police to make a statement.

The officer came to Stipp's radiography rooms, where a female investigator took his initial statement.

A few months later, chief investigator Captain van Aardt came to take another statement.

Nel asked whether the sounds Stipp first heard were gunshots.

Stipp said he had been in the military division in 1993, where he had been trained in using assault rifles and 9mm pistols.

Stipp said after the first screams he heard, he was unsure if he heard further screams.

But he said he could hear at a lower volume the sound of a man's voice, but that he had not included this in his written statement.

Stipp also said that the police had not arrived at Pistorius's home by the time the ambulance arrived, and that he had left the premises by then.

Both of Stipp's balcony doors were open that night.

The cross-examination will begin at 1.50pm.

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The Star

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