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Oscar trial halted as witness’s face shown

Oscar Pistorius speaks to his legal team from the dock ahead of the second day of his murder trial. Photo: Kim Ludbrook/ Pool

Oscar Pistorius speaks to his legal team from the dock ahead of the second day of his murder trial. Photo: Kim Ludbrook/ Pool

Published Mar 4, 2014


Pretoria - Day two of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial started at 09.36am, but was brought to an abrupt halt at 9.53am as the State prosecutor told the court that a still photo of the witness's face was being shown despite an order that her face should not be broadcast.

Gerrie Nel interrupted proceedings to say that he had been told that Pretoria University Lecturer Michelle Burger's face was being shown on television, despite her request that this should not happen.

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Her image, a still photograph, had appeared on eNews Channel Africa.

Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned the proceedings to investigate the matter.

eNCA then tweeted that they had used a still image of Burger.

“NOTE: 'We used a still picture from the University website - also carried in daily newspapers’,” Patrick Conroy, Head of News, eNCA said on Twitter.

When court proceedings resumed the judge confirmed that the court order is to stop any photographs of any sort regarding any witness who has asked photos not to be published and that there would be an investigation to find extent of violation of court order.

Images of witnesses may not be broadcast irrespective of where they were sourced, Masipa said.

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The judge said: "This is disturbing. If you (media) don't behave you are not going to be treated with soft gloves. I order a stop to any photographs of any sorts, it doesn't matter where it was sourced from. .. that no images of witnesses should be shown. I order an investigation into the extent of the violation."

On Tuesday morning, Burger again took the witness stand for the continuation of her cross examination, with Pistorius’s lawyer Advocate Barry Roux SC saying: “I'm going to deal with two aspects only this morning... credibility and reliability”.

Burger told the court on Monday that in the early morning hours of Reeva Steenkamp's murder, she was woken by “blood-curdling” screams of a woman.

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She had sat up in bed while her husband walked out into the balcony to check what was happening.

The couple lives 170 metres from the paralympian's house, and while they live in an adjacent estate, they could see Pistorius's house from their balcony.

“She screamed terribly for help. I also heard a man calling for help... calling 3 times. I told my husband it doesn’t help to stand on the balcony he should come in then we call security,” she said.

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The screaming climaxed, the woman sounded scared, Burger sai.

“I heard the screams again, it was more intense. It was a climax... she souded very scared. I then heard the shots... bang... bang bang... bang! Four shots. I then told my husband I hope that woman didn’t just see her husband get shot in front of her. After the shots, we didn’t hear her scream again,” said Burger.

Pistorius faces a charge of murder for gunning down Steenkamp, his model girlfriend, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year.

His version is that he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder.

On Monday, told Burger that the woman's screams she had heard were in fact Pistorius's as he “screams like a woman when anxious”.

His voice, said Roux, gets pitched when he's anxious and he sounds like a woman.

The Star and Sapa

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