State Prosecutor Gerrie Nel earlier this week.
State Prosecutor Gerrie Nel earlier this week.

‘You made a mistake?’

By SHAIN GERMANER Time of article published Apr 9, 2014

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Pretoria - "You made a mistake?! You killed a person. You killed Reeva Steenkamp... You shot and killed her!" prosecutor Gerrie Nel angrily announced to the Pretoria High Court.

"Say it! Say 'Yes, I shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp'."

Oscar Pistorius admitted that he had killed the young model, his face turning red.

Nel had wasted no time in starting a grueling attack on the athlete, showing the world that he was not going to go soft on the man who had just provided a lengthy version of how he had accidentally killed Steenkamp.

Nel began his cross-examination by asking if Pistorius agreed he was one of the most recognisable faces in the world.

Pistorius agreed, and almost instantaneously Nel made his accusations.

After asking about the shooting, Nel began tearing into the athlete when he said he'd made a mistake.

"I know in the past people looked up to me," said an upset looking Pistorius.

The prosecutor said Pistorius had the obligation to tell the truth. "I owe it to myself and Reeva's family to tell the truth... I'm here to tell the truth," Pistorius said.

Nel then wanted to present a video of Pistorius in possession of Sky News where someone was discussing a "zombie stopper". It was unclear at the time of publication whether this referred to a firearm. Pistorius said he was unfamiliar with this video, but said he would be willing to watch it.

Roux objected to the video evidence, saying it was an ambush, and how it had never been referred to in the state's docket.

Nel argued that this was relevant character evidence, after Pistorius' defence had opened up such avenues by relying for the past two days on Pistorius' character.

Roux said this video had not formed part of the state's case. But Nel said that Pistorius had requested on the stand to see the video.

Judge Thokozile Masipa then asked for some time to decide on whether the video should be shown to the court.

Earlier Oscar Pistorius told the High Court in Pretoria that he didn't intend to kill Reeva Steenkamp - or anybody else.

Just minutes after Pistorius had described the harrowing night he shot and killed Steenkamp, his defence team was already on full assault against the State's case.

On Wednesday, Pistorius began his testimony, and broke down while describing how he found Steenkamp's body in his bathroom toilet cubicle after having shot through the locked door. His wails forced the court to adjourn early.

On Wednesday morning, the athlete had regained his composure. Pistorius said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder and only realised after firing at the door that it was his girlfriend inside the cubicle.

When he found her body, he knelt down over Steenkamp's body. He said he checked if she was breathing, but she was struggling. He manoeuvred around, opening the door and picked up her limp body. He saw her arm was broken, but pulled her into the main bathroom. He saw her cellphone was in the toilet, and grabbed it to call for help but didn't know the phone's passcode.

He ran back to the bedroom, and got his phone from the left hand side of the bed and ran back to Steenkamp.

Pistorius phoned estate manager, Johan Stander, at around 3.19am to help him.

He struggled to pick Steenkamp up and was worried about injuring her further. He tried putting her arm over her and he could feel the blood running. Steenkamp was still struggling to breathe, and then phoned Netcare 911, a private ambulance service. A minute later, he called the estate security, according to his phone records, but Pistorius said he couldn't even remember calling them.

He ran downstairs to open the front door and his bedroom door because he wouldn't have been able to do so while carrying Steenkamp.

Running back to his bedroom, he picked Steenkamp up, and carried her part of the way, and paused at the second flight of stairs when he saw Stander and his daughter had arrived. He called for their help, and Stander advised Pistorius put Steenkamp down because the ambulance was already on its way.

After doing so, he tried to open her airways by putting his fingers in Steenkamp's mouth, and pushing down on the wound to her hip to stop the bleeding. Stander's daughter asked if he had any tape, rope or anything like that to tie her arms “so they wouldn't bleed as much”. He couldn't remember who fetched the plastic bags from his kitchen, but previous witnesses said they used them to cover her wounds while waiting for the ambulance. Pistorius himself could not remember.

Dr Johan Stipp - a former State witness - arrived at the house, and Pistorius said he was relieved that a doctor had arrived.

Pistorius said he was crying for help, and Stipp seemed overwhelmed by the situation. Stipp kneeled down and checked Steenkamp, but Pistorius said he walked outside and he didn't see him again, despite calling for help from him.

The paramedics then arrived on the scene, and asked for space to work. Pistorius stood up, but struggled to remember the order of events after this.

“Reeva had already died while I was holding her before the ambulance had arrived,” he said.

Defence advocate Barry Roux asked him if he remembered going to the kitchen.

Pistorius said he stood back a few meters but was quickly informed by a female paramedic that Steenkamp had died.

Pistorius was unable to say the word “died” and as his face went red, he sniffed and paused. The athlete continued by describing how the paramedics asked for identification for Steenkamp. He went upstairs to fetch her handbag and gave it to the medical team.

He then sat in the kitchen, and after an undetermined amount of time, police officers arrived.

The officers were in civilian clothing, and they ordered him to stay in the kitchen. Every time he looked up, it seemed as though there were more officers. He asked a policeman if he could wash his hands, because the smell of blood had made him want to vomit. He remembered washing his hands, but not his chest which was mostly clean in crime scene photos shown to the court.

Pistorius said the officers went upstairs to investigate and came down a short time later. At the time, he couldn't bring himself to look out of his kitchen around the corner because of Steenkamp's body laying there.

He was taken to his garage where a crime scene photographer took photos of him and his prosthetics. He sat in the garage for hours before another officer came in to tell him not to worry. It was some time later the athlete was told he'd be charged with murder and taken away from the scene.

Pistorius was advised by police to keep his head down to avoid the media contingent waiting outside his estate. He arrived at Mamelodi Academic Hospital, and he was taken inside the reception area where a doctor introduced himself and some tests were run.

Roux then asked Pistorius to demonstrate to the court how he hit the bathroom door, using the reconstructed door in the court room and the cricket bat used on the night.

While the bat was being fetched, Pistorius was asked about a phone call to his friend Justin Divaris shortly after the killing. Pistorius wasn't sure if it was him or someone else using his phone, such as Stander or his daughter, who phoned Divaris.

Pistorius assured the court he would not have been able to balance on his stumps when using the cricket bat on the door, as the State alleged he had.

Pistorius had said he'd been on his stumps when he fired but put on his prosthetics when breaking down the door.

The State has argued the marks on the door indicate he had not put on his prosthetics when using the bat.

Roux also asked about how neighbours had heard loud bangs before and after hearing the screams of a man and a woman, but Pistorius said they must have heard him beating the door with a bat, rather than the gunshots.

Roux said some of Pistorius' neighbours had testified they heard the loud noises at around 3.12am.

But Pistorius said he was unsure how fast he walked on his stumps, but said the shots were fired about five minutes prior to hitting the door with the bat.

By this point, the bat had arrived in court, and Pistorius rose from the stand and walked towards the reconstructed door.

Pistorius' defence claim some of the marks on the door came from when Pistorius used his prosthetic legs to kick the door. The athlete was able to kick above the door handle, where one of the marks lay. He then picked up the bat, showing the court how he had hit the door.

Pistorius said he had watched the previous demonstration by a State expert on how Pistorius must have hit the door. If he had been on his prosthetics, the expert said Pistorius must have been in a very unnatural position. Pistorius told the court that in his panic, he used his whole body to use the bat, and this had resulted in an “unnatural position”. Pistorius said he hit the door with all his might, and that he changed position during the three hits while trying to break through it.

Roux then presented an aerial view of Pistorius' Pretoria East estate. The advocate then mentioned a witness the State had chosen not to call, Mr Motshuane, who lived directly next to Pistorius. In his statement, Motshuane had indicated he only heard crying, and not the sound of a woman screaming. Besides giving Motshuane a welcoming gift when he moved in, Pistorius did not know his neighbour at all. Another neighbour also not called by the State said he had not heard a woman either.

The Stipps, who testified they'd heard a woman, also had a domestic worker living on the property whose statement said she had not.

Roux then pointed out that without Pistorius' prosthetic legs on, he wouldn't be visible at his bathroom window, as Stipp's wife had testified seeing a man .

Pistorius said he was not in the bathroom before 3.17am, the suspected time of the shooting, and that Stipp's wife must have seen him bringing in the bat.

But most importantly, Roux asked if at any point Pistorius wanted to kill Steenkamp.

“I did not intend to kill Reeva, my lady, or anybody else,” Pistorius told the court.

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