‘At that moment, I knew she was no more’

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius confers with his defence lawyer Barry Roux in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria May 6, 2014. Picture: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius confers with his defence lawyer Barry Roux in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria May 6, 2014. Picture: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

The 27th day of Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial ended early following the brief testimony of Ricca Motshwane on Tuesday (06/05/2014).

Motshwane was one of the Blade Runner’s next-door neighbours in the Silver Woods Estate, where he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year.

Motshwane, a psychologist, testified that she was awoken in the early hours of the morning of February 14, 2013 by the sounds of a man screaming.

She testified that the screams were those of “someone in great pain” and, after waking her husband, afraid and unsure of what was happening, the couple made a call to the complex’s security guards, who told them that they were “handling the situation”.

Motshwane looked out of her bedroom window and saw a Mini Cooper belonging to Carise Viljoen, daughter of Silver Woods resident Johan Stander, parked outside.

She then saw the arrival of security guards outside Pistorius’s house.

The couple returned to bed but were unable to sleep and spoke to each other about what might have happened, but they did not leave their house.

Defence advocate Barry Roux asked Motshwane if she could demonstrate to the court the sounds she had heard and she obliged, letting out a series of high-pitched wails.

For a second day, Roux underestimated the amount of time it would take to lead witness testimony and requested an adjournment, which was granted by Judge Thokozile Masipa. Roux quipped that he had asked prosecutor Gerrie Nel to have more questions for future cross-examinations in order to “save me from these embarrassing situations”.

The trial resumes on Thursday morning.

Earlier, Pistorius’s closest neighbour told the court he did not hear screaming the night Reeva Steenkamp was shot.

“Oscar is my neighbour. I’m the closest neighbour… as I said I heard a man crying,” Michael Nhlengethwa said during cross-examination by prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

“My Lady I heard the man that was crying, that is why I called security.”

Nel questioned Nhlengethwa on what he and his wife heard in Silver Woods Estate, Pretoria, in the early hours of February 14 last year.

“Did you hear any sounds that could have emanated from him [Pistorius] breaking down the door?” Nel asked.

Nhlengethwa said no. He did not hear gunshots. However, he said his wife heard a bang. Nel asked if he heard a woman scream, Nhlengethwa said no.

Pistorius claims he thought Steenkamp was an intruder when he shot and killed her. He has been charged with murder. The State alleges he shot her during an argument.

Pistorius shot four times through the locked door of his toilet, apparently thinking an intruder was about to emerge and attack him. Steenkamp, who was behind the door, was hit in the hip, arm, and head. He broke down the door with a cricket bat to get Steenkamp out.

Pistorius is also charged with three alleged contraventions of the Firearms Control Act – one of illegal possession of ammunition, and two of discharging a firearm in public. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Earlier, Nhlengethwa, described what he saw when he arrived at Pistorius’s residence after calling security.

“I saw Oscar. He was kneeling next to a lady who was just lying down there. He was just crying at that point in time.”

Pistorius sat with his head in his hands as Nhlengethwa spoke.

“I could see obviously that the situation was bad. I couldn’t take watching what I saw.”

Nhlengethwa said he saw the ambulance arrive at Pistorius’s house.

“I saw the stretcher come out [of the house] at that moment my lady and I knew she was no more.” Sapa, Tymon Smith

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