Paralympian Oscar Pistorius kept his head down and his palms pressed to his ears during most of the morning session of his murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.
While cross-examining pathologist Jan Botha, prosecutor Gerrie Nel had a photograph of wounds in Reeva Steenkamp’s back displayed on screens around the court.
They were caused by bullet fragments that ricocheted off the tiled wall in the toilet cubicle in Pistorius’s home where she was shot on February 14 last year. The photo shows two dark holes, one larger and the other smaller.
Nel had the photograph enlarged to the point where the fine, white hairs in Steenkamp’s skin were visible.
“Do you see the railway line, then a gap, a railway line, and a gap?” Nel asked Botha, referring to striations visible in the wound.
He was challenging Botha’s claim that there were similar marks on the magazine rack in the toilet cubicle.
A second photo shown in court showed a close-up of a fragment of Steenkamp’s hair embedded in tissue stuck to the inside of the toilet lid.
“That would mean her head was very close to that area?” Nel asked, referring to the moment she was shot in the head.
“I agree,” Botha replied.
As soon as court adjourned for tea, Pistorius’s brother Carl and sister Aimee came to sit on either side of him in the witness box and put their arms around him.
A member of his defence team, Brian Webber, also came and a put a hand on his shoulder as he sat bent over, his face in his hands.
Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and of contravening the Firearms Control Act.
He allegedly fired a shot from a Glock pistol under a table at a Johannesburg restaurant in January 2013. On September 30, 2012 he allegedly shot through the open sunroof of a car with his 9mm pistol while driving with friends in Modderfontein.
He has denied guilt.