ANGUISHED sobs and sounds of retching filled the Pretoria High Court yesterday as Oscar Pistorius broke down in tears, when he described the moment he realised he had shot his girlfriend, former Port Elizabeth model Reeva Steenkamp.
“I sat over her and cried. She was not breathing. I have no idea how long I was there for. I just cried and cried and cried.”
For two hours yesterday, a weeping Pistorius, 27, questioned by his advocate, Barry Roux, gave chilling testimony of the moments leading to the point where he shot Steenkamp, 29, through a locked toilet door.
Describing the moments leading to him pulling the trigger while on his stumps, Pistorius said: “I heard the bathroom window slide open. I was fearful. Frozen by fear. I wanted to protect Reeva and myself.”
He told Judge Thokozile Masipa how he had woken during the early hours of the morning from the heat.
“I was on the left side of the bed because of my sore shoulder. Reeva was awake … she said, ‘Baba go back to sleep’.
“I got up – on my stumps – with my left hand on the bed [to balance]. I went to the balcony to bring in the fans. I closed the curtains. The only light was from an amplifier. Except for that, the room was completely dark.”
It was as he returned to bed that he heard the bathroom window open. Pistorius thought it was a burglar. “The first thing I thought was that I needed to arm myself, to get my gun to protect us.”
Pistorius, on his stumps and hands, went to his side of the bed, grabbing his holstered gun from underneath it.
Whispering to Steenkamp to get to the floor and phone the police, Pistorius edged forward.
“I was so scared. I started screaming. I have never screamed like that in my life. I was screaming to Reeva to phone the police, to the intruders to get out of my house.
“I cocked my gun. I thought the intruder could be in the clothes cupboard. I was constantly aware of the threat as I went down the passage … that people could come around the corner at anytime.”
It was then that he heard the toilet door slam shut. “I knew the intruders were inside.”
Roux, who had Pistorius demonstrate how he walked on his stumps, asked about the moment the Blade Runner opened fire. “As I entered the bathroom, I thought the intruders were around the corner.
“I had my gun in my right hand, raised to eye level … my back against the bathroom entrance wall.
“There was no light on, but I could see the window was open. I wasn’t sure where the intruders were … in the toilet, around the corner or on a ladder outside the window.
“I peered around the corner, but I saw no one. I retreated backwards and screamed again for Reeva to phone the police.”
Pistorius kept on looking between the open window and toilet door, not knowing where the “attack” would come from.
“I was screaming … I heard a noise from the toilet and shot four times. I was screaming for Reeva … my ears ringing. I didn’t think she was in the toilet.” Panicking, Pistorius searched his bedroom in vain for Steenkamp, running repeatedly back and forth between the balcony and bathroom, where he smashed open the toilet door with his cricket bat and screamed for help.
“I ripped open the door panel. I saw it was her. I got inside … sat over her. She was not breathing. I have no idea how long I was there for. I just cried and cried and cried.”
Earlier, giving testimony on his relationship with Steenkamp and her fears over the hate mail she was receiving for dating Pistorius, he testified that she feared it was instigated by his ex-girlfriend, Samantha Taylor.
“In October, before I met Reeva, Taylor sent me a message saying she had slept with a guy while I was at the London Olympics.
“It ended our relationship and I never spoke to her again, despite her sending me numerous messages pleading for reconciliation.”
In anger yesterday, Taylor tweeted: “These are the last lies you are going to tell … you better make it worth your while.”
The tweet was later deleted but not before it had been retweeted.
On the firearms charges against him, Pistorius said while it was foolish to take a gun from a friend under a table in a busy Johannesburg restaurant, he was angry that the friend had given him an unsafe gun.
He also denied firing a shot through the sunroof of a car on September 30 2012, as alleged by two witnesses.
ý For breaking news from the courtroom, follow Times Media reporter Tymon Smith on the twitter handle @oscarstrial Taking gun was ‘stupid’ : P3 OSCAR Pistorius said he was stupid to take a gun from a friend under a table in a busy Johannesburg restaurant. Pistorius was referring to the incident in January last year when a shot was fired from a gun he was holding in Tasha’s in Melrose Arch.
Testifying in his murder trial in the Pretoria High Court yesterday, Pistorius answered to this and two other firearm and ammunition charges he is also facing.
The firearm belonged to Darren Fresco, one of three friends having lunch with him that day.
“At some point in the lunch – it was stupid – I asked him [Fresco] to pass me his firearm,” he said, explaining that he had wanted to buy a similar weapon.
“I wanted to check that the gun was safe. Suddenly, the gun went off. I was immediately worried that someone may have got hurt.
“I was angry that he gave me an unsafe gun. I said to Mr Fresco, does he realise how stupid this was, does he understand the severity of what happened?”
Pistorius said when restaurant owner Jason Loupis came over, Fresco told him the gun got hooked on his pants “or something”.
Pistorius also denied firing a shot through the sunroof of a car Fresco was driving on a highway on September 30 2012. Fresco and Pistorius’s ex-girlfriend, Samantha Taylor, testified about this alleged shooting.
Pistorius admitted to being “agitated in my manner” when one of the police officers who had pulled them over for speeding on that day handled his firearm, which he had left on the seat in the car for safekeeping when he got out of the car.
On the final charge, he told the court that the ammunition for a .38 firearm the police found in his safe was not his.
He said it belonged to his father, Henke, and that he was keeping it safe for him.