First witness tells of 'terrible screaming'

2014-03-03 13:02
Oscar Pistorius stands in court. (Themba Hadebe, AP)

Oscar Pistorius stands in court. (Themba Hadebe, AP)

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Pretoria - The first witness in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius took the stand in the North Gauteng High Court shortly after midday on Monday.

She is Michelle Burger, a university lecturer who lives with her husband Charl Johnson at the Silver Stream estate, which borders Silver Woods, where Pistorius lives.

It was at Silver Woods where Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead on 14 February, Valentine's Day, last year.

He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of murdering her.

Burger described the evening before the shooting as one "like any other" where they ate dinner.

Screaming

But just after 03:00 she said she woke up to the sound of a woman screaming.

"She screamed terribly and called for help. Then I heard a man calling for help three times," Burger said during questioning by prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

Her husband heard it too and jumped up and went to the balcony.

"I was still sitting in the bed and I heard her screams," she said in Afrikaans, translated into English.

"She called for help. She screamed terribly and shouted for help. Then I heard a man also call for help. He called for help three times.

"I told my husband it doesn't help if he stands on the balcony, he must go back into the room and call security."

Burger called security and gave her phone to her husband to speak to them because they lived in Silver Stream, so that Silver Stream's security could phone Silver Woods's security.

Her husband spoke to security and told security to go and investigate.

He had to repeat his plea as the phone was passed on to someone in the security room.

The slender woman, dressed in black, spoke in Afrikaans and had her testimony translated into English. Her evidence was not televised.

Shots

After Burger's husband called security, she heard a woman scream again.

"The screams were more intense. It was like a climax," Burger said.

"The fear in her voice was horrific."

Then she heard four gunshots.

"It was very traumatic for me... You can't translate into words the anxiety in her voice," she said of the screams she heard.

"I thought it was a housebreaking. We thought someone was attacked."

Burger also testified that she only found out later on 14 February last year that Steenkamp had been killed.

"I only made a statement later on because I don't live in Silverwoods [Estate]," said Burger.

"We thought there would be people in Silverwoods that would testify because we are not in that estate."

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including possession of ammunition without a licence.

The State will try to prove that Pistorius committed premeditated murder when he shot and killed Steenkamp.

In addition he is charged with illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

His lawyers will argue that he mistook her for an intruder when he shot her.

- SAPA
Read more on:    reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  pistorius trial
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