Oscar Pistorius cradles his head in his hands during court proceedings in Pretoria at the resumption of his murder trial on Monday. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

Pretoria - Oscar Pistorius was broken and torn apart at the realisation that life was slowly slipping out of his girlfriend’s body.

He wept and prayed to God to save Reeva Steenkamp’s life as he stuck his fingers in her mouth to open her airways.

At some point in the early hours of February 14 last year, he held one side of a towel as one of his neighbours pulled the other end in a bid to stop blood flowing from Steenkamp’s arm.

This was the testimony of neighbours Johan Stander and his daughter Carise Viljoen in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday, painting a picture of a distraught man desperate to save his girlfriend’s life.

“He was broken. He was crying… he was praying. I spent some time trying to calm him down. It is not something that I would like to experience again in my life… A young man walking down the stairs with a young lady in his arms,” Stander said.

“The expression in his face… he is crying. He is praying. He’s asking God for help. He was torn apart… pleading… it’s difficult really to describe. His commitment to save the young lady’s life, how he begged God to keep her alive,” Stander said, emotional and constantly shaking his head.

It was a 3.19am call that had led him to drive 530m from his house to the Paralympian’s.

“He said ‘Please, please, please come to my house, please. I shot Reeva, I thought she was an intruder. Please, please come’,” said Stander.

With Viljoen (she lived with her parents at the time but has since married) behind the wheel, they rushed to Pistorius’s home and arrived to find the front door ajar.

“The door was slightly open, so it opened immediately as I touched it. I walked in and the first thing I saw was Oscar carrying Reeva downstairs. He was frantic,” Viljoen said.

Pistorius’s first words to her were “Carise please, Carise please… Let’s get her in the car and get her to hospital”.

Emotional and battling to hold back tears, Viljoen continued: “I told him to put her down. I just saw blood everywhere.

“My dad went outside to call an ambulance. Everyone was frantic. He kept begging me ‘please, let’s take her to hospital’.”

She had then walked upstairs to fetch towels with which to stop the bleeding.

“I got back down and he was still praying to God, pleading with Reeva as well: ‘Stay with me, my love, stay with me’. We tried to stop the bleeding. I wanted to tie her arm as tight as possible with tapes and plastic. That didn’t work, so we used a towel.

“He was holding the one side and I was holding the other side. He had his finger in her mouth trying to help her to breathe, I suppose. When I asked him to fetch the towels, he asked if I could just keep a finger there – in her mouth,” Viljoen said.

While her father was woken up by a phone call from Pistorius, Viljoen said she was awakened by the barking of dogs.

“My dog was barking. I could also hear other dogs in the neighbourhood, restless. My sliding door was open. It was summertime, so it tended to get really hot at night, and I slept with my sliding door open,” she said.

Just as she was about to close her sliding door, she heard a man screaming, “Help, help, help”.

The trial continues.

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The Star