Pistorius faces his biggest challenge

PARALYMPIAN Oscar Pistorius faces what could be the toughest challenge of his life today, as he prepares to testify for the first time about the night he shot his girlfriend, former Port Elizabeth model Reeva Steenkamp, 29.

His testimony, to be delivered in the Pretoria High Court, comes after a week’s delay in the trial.

The delay was brought about by the illness of one of Judge Thokozile Masipa’s assessors.

The unexpected break was hard for Pistorius, 27, his relatives said, as he had been all geared up to answer his accusers.

But it has given his defence team time to reflect on what the Blade Runner will say about the events of Valentine’s Day last year, when he fired four times through a locked toilet door at his Pretoria home, killing Steenkamp inside.

He has already offered two statements – at his bail hearing in February last year and at the start of the trial last month, explaining that he had believed Steenkamp was an intruder.

The prosecution alleges he murdered her after they had an argument. For legal experts, his first spoken account will be critical to the judge’s decision.

Pistorius will be tested not just against his two previous versions of events, but also against a raft of direct and circumstantial evidence from witnesses called by the prosecution during their 15-day case.

Wits University law professor Stephen Tucson said: “In this case, the criminal conduct, the act itself, is freely admitted. The only issue for the court is his state of mind and the most direct evidence of that is his own testimony.” – Sunday Telegraph