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Pistorius quizzed on Reeva evidence

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius arrives ahead of his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria 9 April 2014Oscar Pistorius sobbed whilst recounting the moments of the shooting

South African athlete Oscar Pistorius is being quizzed about his version of events on the night that he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel began his cross examination by pushing Mr Pistorius to acknowledge the full magnitude of his actions on 14 February 2013.

The athlete said he made a “mistake” on the night that he shot Ms Steenkamp.

“You killed a person, that’s what you did! You shot and killed her, won’t you take responsibility…?” Mr Nel said.

Gerrie Nel

Oscar Pistorius told prosecutor Gerrie Nel that he “made a terrible mistake”

Earlier, Mr Pistorius described how Ms Steenkamp died before the ambulance arrived while he was holding her.

The athlete denies deliberately shooting dead his girlfriend, arguing he mistook her for an intruder.

Prosecutors contend he intentionally killed her in the toilet of his bathroom after a row.

The 27-year-old Olympic and Paralympic sprinter, who is a double amputee, faces life imprisonment if convicted of murder.

On Tuesday, he broke down in tears whilst describing the events leading up to the shooting and the actual event.


If acquitted, South African law stipulates that the court must consider the separate, lesser charge of culpable homicide, or manslaughter, for which he could receive between six and 15 years in prison.

Mr Pistorius also faces charges of illegally firing a gun in public and of illegally possessing ammunition, both of which he denies.

There are no juries at trials in South Africa, and his fate will ultimately be decided by the judge, assisted by two assessors.

The BBC’s Andrew Harding in court in Pretoria says in the opening moments of cross examination showed the highly combative style Mr Pistorius can now expect from Mr Nel in the coming days.

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Gerrie Nel: Fierce prosecutor

South African Prosecutor Gerrie Nel

Gerrie Nel is known for his no-nonsense attitude inside the courtroom and is one of South Africa’s most respected legal minds.

With more than 30 years’ experience he has a string of successful prosecutions under his belt and is no stranger to high-profile cases. He prosecuted former police boss and Interpol’s ex-head Jackie Selebi on corruption charges, once calling him an “arrogant liar” during cross examination.

Those who know him praise his meticulous attention to detail and his “fearlessness”. He was junior prosecutor in the murder case of anti-apartheid activist Chris Hani in 1993.

He was also the founding head in 1999 of the Gauteng province division of South Africa’s elite police and prosecution unit the Hawks, then known as the Scorpions.

Oscar Pistorius trial: Key players

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Earlier while being questioned by his lawyer, Mr Pistorius described the moments after paramedics had arrived at the scene.

“They asked for some space to work so I stood up. Reeva had already died whilst I was holding her before the ambulance arrived. So, I knew there was nothing they could do for her,” he said.

He also described his distress as police and other officials arrived at the house.

“I asked a policeman if I could wash my hands because the smell of the blood was making me throw up,” he said.

Reeva SteenkampMr Pistorius said that during their three-month relationship he and Ms Steenkamp had become very close

June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva Steenkamp, holds her head as Oscar Pistorius gives evidence in Pretoria, 8 AprilReeva Steenkamp’s mother held her head while listening to the testimony of Mr Pistorius on Tuesday

Aimee Pistorius is overcome with emotion as she listens to her brother Oscar's testimony in the Pretoria High Court, 8 April Aimee Pistorius was overcome with emotion as she listened to her brother’s testimony on Tuesday

His lawyer Barry Roux also asked him to demonstrate how he would swing a cricket bat.

Mr Pistorius said he was on his prosthetic legs when he used the cricket bat to break down the toilet door.

He said the three sounds heard by witnesses at 03:17 local time was the cricket bat hitting the door – about five minutes after he shot at the toilet door.

He said he was on his stumps, when he shot at the door.

“I can barely stand on my stumps,” he said.

‘Loud crying’

During his questioning, Mr Roux also mentioned statements from close neighbours who were listed by the state but not called by the prosecution.

He said the statement from Kenny Motshoane’s house described hearing “crying” and not “a woman screaming”, as mentioned by other witnesses.

Another woman living nearby also says she heard “loud crying” and not a woman screaming, Mr Roux said.

Family of Oscar Pistorius in tears

Oscar Pistorius recounted the shooting on Tuesday

Before Mr Roux ended his questioning he asked Mr Pistorius if he had intentionally killed Ms Steenkamp.

“I did not intend to kill Reeva or anybody else for that matter,” he replied.

On Tuesday, the athlete described how the couple had spent a quiet evening together on 13 February, Ms Steenkamp doing some yoga as he spoke to his cousin on the phone.

He had then watched TV in bed with his head resting on her stomach and she would occasionally show him photos of cars she was looking at on her phone, he said. He said that they had bought Valentine’s Day gifts for each other.

Ms Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, reality TV celebrity and law graduate, was hit by at least three bullets while in the toilet cubicle of Mr Pistorius’s home in Pretoria.


3D impression of Pistorius house






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  • 1. Balcony



    Mr Pistorius said in his statement at the start of the trial that he woke in the early hours and walked on his stumps to the balcony, pulled in two fans, closed the sliding door and drew curtains. He said that shortly before he had spoken to Reeva, who was in bed beside him.

    He said he rejected prosecution claims that a witness heard arguing coming from the house before the shooting.

  • 2. Bathroom noise


    Mr Pistorius said he heard the bathroom window sliding open and believed that an intruder, or intruders, had entered the bathroom through a window which was not fitted with burglar bars.

    “Unbeknown to me, Reeva must have gone to the toilet in the bathroom at the time I brought in the fans,” he said.

    Mr Pistorius said he approached the bathroom armed with his firearm, to defend himself and his girlfriend, believing Ms Steenkamp was still in bed.

  • 3. Shooting


    Both sides agree four bullets were fired. Ms Steenkamp was hit three times.

    Mr Pistorius said he fired his weapon after hearing a noise in the toilet which he thought was the intruder coming out of the toilet to attack him and Ms Steenkamp.

    He said he was in a fearful state, knowing he was on his stumps and unable to run away or properly defend himself.

    Mr Pistorius said he rejected claims that he was on his prostheses when he shot at the door.

    A witness told the trial she woke to hear a woman screaming and a man shouting for help. She said that after the screams she heard four shots.

  • 4. Bedroom


    Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bedroom after shooting at the toilet door, still shouting for Reeva. Lifting himself up onto the bed, he felt over to the right hand side of it and noticed Ms Steenkamp was not there.

    Mr Pistorius said this was when he realised she could have been in the toilet.

  • 5. Toilet door


    Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bathroom but the toilet was locked, so he returned to the bedroom, pulled on his prosthetic legs, turned on the lights before bashing in the toilet door with a cricket bat.

    Forensics expert Johannes Vermeulen told the court that the height of the marks on the door caused by the cricket bat suggest Mr Pistorius was on his stumps at the time.

  • 6. Emergency calls


    Mr Pistorius’s defence team say he then called security at the gated housing complex and a private paramedic service before carrying Ms Steenkamp downstairs.

    A security guard claimed it was the other way round, and he had called Mr Pistorius first after reports of gunfire. However, phone records shown to the court revealed Mr Pistorius called the estate manager at 3:19am, a minute later he called the ambulance service and at 3:21am he called estate security.

    A minute later he received an incoming call – estate security calling him back.

    According to police phone expert Francois Moller, Mr Pistorius called his friend Justin Divaris a short time later and just after 4:00am he called his brother Carl.

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