AS IT HAPPENED: Pistorius trial, day 17

2014-04-07 08:48

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Oscar's trial - day 17 summary

2014-04-07 15:36

Here's all you need to know of Oscar Pistorius's testimony when he took to the stand on day 17 of his murder trial in the North Gauteng High Court. Watch. WATCH

We bring you all the updates as Oscar Pistorius's trial goes into its 17th day. You can also get highlights from day 16 here.

15:27 - That's all for updates today. News24's trial coverage will continue though. But updates will be back before the trial resumes tomorrow at 09:30. Until then, adios.  Here's all you need to know of Oscar Pistorius's testimony when he took to the stand on day 17 of his murder trial in the North Gauteng High Court. Watch.

15:22 - "I'm hearing Oscar Pistorius may finish evidence tomorrow. Then cross-examination - which could take some time..." tweets the BBC's Andrew Harding.

15:15 - A highly emotional Oscar Pistorius breaks down in court. See more photos here.The picture below is by AP's Themba Hadebe. 

15:10 - "(The) defence (is) presenting Oscar as mournful, apologetic, pious and crime aware. In line with strategy of putative self defence, (he) acted out of fear," tweets EWN's Mandy Wiener.

14:56 - Jerusha Sukhdeo-Raath talks to News24's court correspondent Sipho Hlongwane about day 17's proceedings. Watch here:

14:44 - "As soon as the judge leaves, he (Pistorius) sits down, puts his head in his hands. His brother Carl goes over and wraps his arms around him," tweets Aislinn Laing.

"He is surrounded by his family who have all flocked to the dock to help him," says Alex Crawford. "He's sitting on the floor of the dock, his face being stroked by his psychologist," Crawford further says.

14:40 - Judge agrees that OP certainly looks exhausted. So she decides to adjourn until tomorrow. Court will re-start at 09:30.

14:38 - OP says he didn't sleep last night and is very tired lately. A lot of things going through my mind. The weight of this is extremely overbearing.It's a lot to think about, says OP.

Roux speaks slowly, softly. Certainly not the tough guy he was a few weeks ago. He asks for adjournment because Pistorius is exhausted.

14:36 - Around 2011/12 I put 'alot of faith in the Lord' and when I met Reeva 'it was a blessing. He says he and Reeva would pray before meals.

Says his beliefs have got him through the last year. "My God is my refuge," says a very emotional OP.

14:35 - He now moves onto religious beliefs. His mother was a Methodist and very active in the church. His religion is very important to him.

His voice is breaking again. Sounds like the tears will start flowing again. "I always knew that the Lord was part of my life."

14:34 - So basically OP loved/ loves his dogs a lot.

14:31 - OP says his dogs are very placid.

14:31 - OP: : I got my first dog in 2005, a Jack Russell. Two years later I got a bull terrier.

14:26 - I was taken aback by her, by how much I'd fallen for her, says OP. He then looked at a house in Johannesburg to buy. He realised his Pretoria home needed fix-ups.

14:24 - OP moves to "nightof the 13th"... says he'd made a phone call to cousin who had just bought a new car. He warned his cousin not to drive to Pretoria because of the hijacking risk. "So I was aware of the crime in that area."

14:21 - Decided to buy a home in 2007. Settled on Silver Woods property. Says at the time there were 27 homes there. Tells of incident during which an intruder gained access to developor's property by climbing a ladder. He also recalls a housekeeper being tied up. 

14:19 - OP tells of assault at a December 2012 "get-together". He describes receiving stitches in head after being assaulted. He says he reported it to the Hawks two days after. Avoided media interest in the incident.

14:18 - OP describes seeing a fight between drivers of a Toyota Corolla and taxi driver. Taxi guy being beaten, he drew his gun to stop them.

Then another time, after seeing a man being beaten with rocks, he pulled up in car and drew his firearm. Man "was bleeding out of everywhere".

14:16 - Now tells how he helped woman who was being assaulted by two men at a shopping centre parking lot in Pretoria.

14:14 - OP now describes incident when he was with Sam Taylor and they were followed. Describes how he got out of his car and approached the other vehicle and they sped off. 

14:12 - OP tells of being followed home and shot at on the highway. Someone once jumped over his wall and kicked his Jack Russell dog.

Driving back from an interview in Johannesburg, a car sped past me, slowed down and then I saw a muzzle flash and heard a bang. Drove to a Rhapsody's and phoned a friend to fetch me.

14:11 - My home had been broken into in 2005 while I was competing in Manchester, says OP.

He sounds more composed.

14:10 - His mother's house was broken into several times. Dad has been hijacked twice. His brother was a victim of an attempted hijacking.

14:09 - OP says growing up he has been exposed to crime such as housebreaking. Recalls one incident at his father's house.

14:09 - OP says he only takes substances that he knows are safe and not prohibited.

14:07 - He says he did consume alcohol on the day of the boating accident but wasn't intoxicated.

Says he smoked dagga with a friend when he was 15 and mom died. But other than that he hasn't doesn't drugs, including sports enhancing drugs. 

14:06 - OP says he doesn't drink alcohol while training and competing but when he's with friends or family during holidays, he has a few drinks.

14:04 - He now describes how he takes care of prosthetics.

Pistorius: I don't want to leave legs where people can see them, or take them...they're part of me. 

14:02 - Court resumes. 
Roux asks about competing away from home. OP says it will have a big effect on any athlete. Finding time to speak to friends and family, says OP, is extremely difficult due to different time zones, etc.

13:48 - DStv subscribers in Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya and South Africa can watch Channel 199 on a DStv Drifta or Walka or a 3G mobile device. Get more details here.

13:08 - Subscribed to DStv Premium, Extra, Compact or Compact Plus? Stream The Oscar Pistorius Trial – A Carte Blanche Channel at

You can also watch testimony from blood splatter expert Colonel Ian van der Nest, one of the state witnesses who took the stand in the Oscar Pistorius Trial here.

13:07 - As the trial continues, find out where to get the latest DStv content.

13:05 - "Pistorius leaves court again with Brian Webber, but not before shaking hands firmly with the state pathologist Prof Gert Saayman," says the UK Telegraph's Aislinn Laing.

12:58 - Roux asks for lunch break. Judge grants it.

12:56 - OP says he airs his prosthetic legs at night, always keeps them close by, one on top of the other.

12:55 - I remember reading in the media that people said I was drinking. I wasn't, says OP of the boating incident. He says the accident made him "more fearful".

12:54 - Pistorius says his cousin who is a doctor helped them. Says there was tissue and blood coming out of his mouth and nose

12:49 - Says there was a struggle to get the boat on the water but managed to get it going at about 18:00. Some on the boat were in a rush to get back home.

Pistorius says the sun was setting in front of them, "I just remember the sound of the propeller going into the air, the sound of the engine".

OP says he just remembers sound of propeller, his face was very hot and the boat was already half full with water. Tells how "most of my face" was smashed in.

12:49 - Roux asks about boating accident on the Vaal River in 2009. OP says he was injured at the time.

12:48 - OP describes how becoming famous and earning more money changed his social life.

12:47 - OP describes racing the fastest people in town and winning. Suddenly people with prosthetics weren't ashamed.

12:46 - OP: I would go and show people that even with a disabiity you could lead a normal life and contribute.

12:44 - Roux moves onto charitable work. OP describes his work with landmine victims.

12:42 - When they amputated they removed heel pads and put them on bottom of stumps so he could move on them.

OP: There is a difference between right and left leg. Worse on left side. Spoken to surgeon to move heal pad.

12:41 - OP says he doesn't have good balance on his stumps. Roux asks if there's a difference on his right or left leg.

12:40 - OP: Angle of knee is difficult on planes. I've got blood clots on several flights and been hospitalised on landing.

12:40 - OP: Every athlete has difficulties. I had a lot of problems with skin irritation inside prosthetics.

12:36 - OP describes battle to gain acceptance for his "blades". Concerns they gave him "an advantage". Talks about fight over whether he had advantage using blades. Unanimous decision: no advantage but he missed Beijing Olympics.

12:33 - OP: In 2007 I had an opportunity to race abroad, and started able-bodied races professionally.

He's now speaking more clearly and sounds more confident. Speaks about the medals he's received.

12:31 - OP now describes how he became a professional athlete. OP: I enjoyed athletics, in first year at University of Pretoria started running for university, but struggled in class. Chose to go professional when it became difficult to manage academic and sport responsibilities.

12:30 - OP: After mom's death we'd stay with extended family or friends on weekends and school holidays.

Says he has a very close extended family.

12:28 -  OP: My mother was a very important person to us. Didn't know his mother was sick until she was in a coma. Aimee Pistorius sobs as her brother describes their mother's death and sickness.

12:27 - Now describes athletic career.

12:26 - OP tells of meeting a fitness coach in 2003… "He asked me to participate in disabled athletics. I'd never participated in one before."

12:24 - OP went to boarding school at Pretoria Boys High... had mixed group of friends... Says many were talented. He says he wasn't very academic. He did rugby and water polo and then athletics at high school.

"I was never part of specific group. I was seen as one of the boys."

12:22 - OP says his mother had a pistol. His family didn't live in "the best of neighbourhoods" and there were break-ins. The firearm was kept in a padded bag under her pillow. 

12:21 - Describes the many sports he played at school. Rugby, tennis, etc.

12:20 - OP tells of time he "stood up for myself" when he was bullied at school. Says there was a "physical altercation" and he was called into the headmaster's office.

12:19 - OP says there were one or two times when he was bullied but his parents taught him to stand up for himself.

12:18 - OP: My mother made me feel equal to the rest of the kids. She didn't see my disability as something that should hold me back.

He smiles as he talks about his mother, says City Press reporter Charl du Plessis.

12:17 - OP: My mother was very supportive. She said she wasn't going to do two trips to school so I had to do sports.

12:16 - OP: I use prosthetic legs. I have difficulty when I’m not wearing them, I have relative mobility. When I was 13 months old, I got first prosthetic legs. I learned how to stand up and move around.

12:14 - OP says he was 6 when his parents separated. Roux moves onto "difficulty with your legs".

"Steenkamp's mother did not show a lot of visible emotion when Pistorius apologised," Rebecca Davissays.

12:13 - OP says his dad often worked away from home so his mother brought them up. Says she was a fantastic person. She was a secretary at a government high school.

12:12 - OP tells where he was born (Johannesburg), about his siblings. Says he's very close with his siblings and that they're a "tight-knit" family. Confirms that he was 15 when his mother died.

12:10 - Roux asks about OP "getting into a cupboard". He says he never wants to handle a firearm again. He can barely speak.

12:09 - OP: "I'm scared to sleep. I have terrible nightmares about things that happened that night. I smell the blood and wake up terrified."

12:08 - He was put on an anti-depressant and a sedative. Lists the various meds. Says he has difficulty sleeping.

12:07 - Tearful, Pistorius says everyday he wakes up he's haunted by Steenkamp family, he prays for them, he tried to protect Reeva.

OP confirms that he's on medication. He's had it changed over the course of the last 14 months.

12:06 - "I wake up in the morning and you're the first people I think of... When she went to bed that night she felt loved.

12:05 - OP starts evidence with an apology. He's extremely emotional. Can't get the words out. He apologises to "Mrs Steenkamp", the rest of Reeva's family. Her loved ones. 

12:05 - Roux starts examining OP.

12:04 - OP sworn in. His voice is breaking.

12:03 - Botha excused. Pistorius called to the stand. 

12:03 - Nel: I think I've done enough.

12:01 - Botha: I'm not being dogmatic. There's no place for dogmatism in forensic evidence.

Nel: there is a difference between being dogmatic and using all the evidence

12:00 - Nel looks away from witness and shakes his head as he (Botha) speaks.

Botha: Reeva probably fell backwards with a slight rotation.

11:58 - Court shown close-up photo of three darkened wounds – one big, two smaller – on Steenkamp's chest.

Botha: If someone fires in rapid succession, unless you are very skilled, the firearm moves around. The grouping is 11cms apart.

11:55 - Nel cross-examines again. He is surprised that Roux and team withdrew their claim that Oscar double-tapped.

11:52 - Botha cannot understand how the wounds on the back could have been caused by anything other than the magazine rack.

Roux: How would you explain ricochet causing two marks? Botha: I find it difficult to reconcile those 2 injuries

11:51 - "Many uniformed cops in overflow court waiting to listen to OP when he is called to stand next," says CBS News reporter Sarah Carter.

11:50 - Botha says bullets would have torn Reeva's shirt, on her back where defence says wounds from hitting magazine rack.

11:49 - Botha: Panic stricken... There's likely to be a lapse of a couple of seconds before that person is capable of reacting.

11:49 - Roux says that Mangena conceded Reeva may have been leaning forward when she was first hit.

11:46 - Nel concludes with Botha. Roux back.

"The Steenkamp contingent appear to have just passed Gerrie Nel a note, via court policeman," tweets reporter Rebecca Davis.

11:45 - Nel: if she was in mortal fear, would she scream? Botha: If she was taken by surprise, she might not scream.

11:43 -  I don't know how quickly she would have reacted, she could have been frozen with fear, says Botha.

Nel insists he is speculating because that's what Botha has been doing. Judge Masipa asks Nel for a second time to speak up.

11:41 - Botha: I believe the head wound was in all probability the final wound.

For once we agree, says Nel.

11:41 - Botha: The wound the to hip caused Reeva to fall... that's the most likely scenario

11:40 - Nel: Looking at injuries and height of bullet holes, what allows you to come to your conclusions? Botha: Because she was standing upright.

11:39 - Nel points out Capt Mangena's version wasn't disputed. Botha says he's uncertain about which bullet ricocheted...

11:38 - "Botha falling into Nel's trap here and getting very worked up. Roux forced onto his feet to intervene. This is how Nel rolls," says EWN's Mandy Wiener.

11:37 - Nel: You just looked at injuries; never at the door when you came to your conclusions?

Botha: I took into account the height of the bullet holes in the door.

11:35 - Nel recalls Botha's earlier statement about the likely sequence of the shooting.

11:33 - Nel now asks about sequence of shooting. Botha says he's not certain of the sequence of the bullet wounds in the door. "I think A is probably the first."

11:31 - Botha confirms that a bullet going through a door would have become unstable, he doubts if clothing would have mattered.

Nel questions Botha about the hip wound. The wound is a black hole with blue, reddish bruised skin around.

11:27 - "Gruesome photo of Reeva's head accidentally shown to court. Quiet gasps," tweets BBC's Andrew Harding.

11:25 - Nel: "Do you have any reason why gastric emptying would have been different from the norm?" Botha: "No."

11:22 - A very frustrated Botha says he's not in court to win the case for any side but to give evidence. Nel had said earlier: It's not that maybe you are wrong. You ARE wrong.

OP, meanwhile, still has his hands covering his face. When he takes the stand, it will likely be exceptionally difficult for him. 

11:21 - Nel: "There is one other aspect that worries me." Shows a pic of Reeva's shirt. Shows ribbing of shirt. "Did you take that into account?"

11:20 - Roux asks (rather sweetly) that Nel slow it down a bit.

Botha is being asked about the small back wound. The photo shows Reeva's shirt ribbing which Nel says caused tracks in wound.

11:18 - Now onto a photo of Reeva's T-shirt.

11:17 - Nel asks about the magazine rack.This is with regards to injuries on Reeva's back.

11:17 - Court resumes. 

11:07 - Download the DStv App for iOS or Android to receive selected content from Channel 199. Check it out here.

Also, @DerekWatts hosts Court News Of The Day, featuring expert Oscar Trial analysis, at 19:00 on Channel 199. Get more details here.

11:03 - An emotional Pistorius in court this morning.

10:58 - OP is now said to be wailing in court.

10:49 - "Oscar Pistorius's back heaves under the embrace of his brother Carl and sister Aimee, his psychologist cradling his head. We can hear his sobs," says reporter Nastasya Tay.

10:47 - OP's sister Aimee is very upset too, appears to have been crying, says Sky News reporter Alex Crawford.

10:45 - Nel suggest court takes an early tea. Judge agrees. Court will resume at 11.15.

10:45 - Botha agrees Nel isn't being unfair with line of questioning. So answer the question, says Nel. 

10:45 - Nel: Did you see that edge on the magazine? Botha: I believe so. Nel: But the hair is still there?

10:44 - Nel: I find it very strange that I have to ask you questions three times...

10:43 - Nel blows up picture of a mark. Botha says scallop on magazine rack caused it. State says it was caused by bullet ricochet.

10:41 - Close up photo of one of Reeva's wounds now shown. It's a wound on her back. This must be hard for June Steenkamp. OP isn't looking up at all.

Also, is this allowed to be shown to the public? 

10:39 - Nel (mockingly): But you said you don't know, you're not a ballistics expert, now you want to becomea ballistics expert...

Botha: It's not a matter of being an expert. It's a matter of common sense. To get splinters she must have been in proximity to the door.

10:38 - Nel says blood splatter in the corner of the toilet shows she was in that area of the room when she that bullet struck her.

Nel: I put it to you that in all probability Capt Mangena's version is the correct one.

10:36 - Now a photo of blood in the toilet. Reeva's mom, June, looks down. OP's head is in his hands again. 

10:35 - Photo of blood stains on OP's toilet seat shown to court. Picture shows broken hair and tissue on the toilet lid - Nel and Botha agree her head was close to the area. 

10:34 - Nel has succeeded in winning the repeated concession from Botha that "I'm not a ballistician". "Then why give evidence on shots?" asks Nel.

10:33 - Botha: The fact there were splinters means she was in "reasonable proximity to the door" for those splinters to have entered her arm.

10:31 - Apparently, Nel's nickname is "the bulldog". I'm getting why.

He says that marks C and D are the ones Botha and (ballistics expert) Mangena have different versions on.

10:30 - Botha says to retrospectively work out the movements of the body with absolute certainty is impossible.

10:29 - Nel telling Botha to look at the door.

If the first shot hit her in the hip, where would she go, Nel asks. Botha: She’d fall back.

10:26 - Nel is putting it to Botha. Botha: "I didn't say I know, I said I believe. I'm not that presumptuous, Mr Nel." This is getting heated. Botha is getting agitated. Nel's tone is rather condescending.

10:26 - Botha: "Nobody knows for certain what position (Reeva) was standing in." The evidence suggests she was in a standing position.

10:24 - Nel says he must have looked at door... Botha says door holes are all roughly same height, he only worked out likely position.

10:22 - Nel turns to the sequence of shots. Botha says he's not in a position to know which of the door holes related to which injury.Botha says he can't say which shot through the door hit Reeva first.

10:21 - Botha cannot offer an opinion on whether digestion stops after death. Nel: So you Saayman is right? Botha: No.

10:18 - Botha says he can’t answer questions he doesn’t understand. Nel: Then just say you don’t understand.

10:17 -  Nel: Was the abrasion irregular? Botha: What do you mean irregular?

10:16 - Nel tells Botha he'll stand down if he can bring him any evidence at all "because I feel so strongly about this" about the back abrasions. Botha says he doesn't know of any articles in this regard.

10:14 - Nel: you must agree that Saayman, having seen stomach contents, not just on photos, would be in better position to conclude?

This is a whole different Nel. He's not the gentle Nel we saw who examined State witnesses.

10:12 - Nel asks if Botha used Dr Perumal's report, Perumal was at post mortem... Botha says no, Saayman's report was more detailed

10:11 - Nel's tone is... less kind that it was when he was examining State witnesses.

10:10 - OP's fingers are laced behind his head. Roux finishes questioning. State prosecutor Gerrie Nel starts cross-examining.

10:09 - Botha: If it was four seconds, it's not possible (that Reeva would have screamed). 

But Botha says he can't rule out Reeva screaming out if there was a longer interval.

Botha says she would likely just have had involuntary actions after being shot... reflexive, unconscious movements.

10:07 - Botha: Whether Reeva could have screamed depends on two factors - one is the sequence of the shots. 

10:06 - Botha: I'm not sure how much pain she would have felt.

He says he think death came fairly quickly after the head injury. 

10:04 - Botha: The wound on Reeva’s back would not be caused by the bullet ricocheting off the wall.

Botha: I believe as she slid down an area over the spine came into contact with the edge of the magazine rack.

10:03 - Botha: The wound to her right arm was essentially a traumatic amputation.

10:02 - As Botha goes through the shooting, OP has his green bucket back.  He's leaning down.

10:01 - Botha disagrees with Mangena's evidence that she fell onto the magazine rack after the first shot.

9:59 - Botha suspects the 3rd shot injured Reeva's left hand and hit toilet. She then fell against the magazine rack. Then the last shot hit her on the right side of the head.  

9:57 - The first bullet would have resulted in Reeva falling down. Second shot was one that struck her in the right arm, Botha thinks.

Police ballistics expert Chris Mangena is in court, leans forward and looks focused as Botha testifies.

9:57 - Botha believes first shot that struck Reeva was over the right hip.

9:55 - Botha says Reeva could have eaten an hour or two before death or it could have been considerably longer.

9:54 - Botha says he's never been asked by an investigating officer to determine the last meal of a deceased person. And he's done 25 000 autopsies. 

9:52 - BR: you looked at articles in Professor Saayman's file?

Botha says they all represent experimental work, can't extrapolate.

9:50 - Botha: We observe gastric contents and have a fairly good idea of time of death.

We're in a position to observe, not come to conclusions, says Botha of the science of analysing stomachs.

9:46 - Botha now refers to books regarding gastric emptying. He lists articles that back up his claims that one cannot say with certainty exactly what time a deceased person last ate. Botha reads quote that gastric emptying to determine time of death is "quite irrelevant"...

9:45 - Botha: Gastric emptying can vary from individual to individual and depend on psychological and other factors. He says yes there are general trends, but warns about something that's in the "realm of speculation".

9:43 - Botha says gastric emptying is a controversial and inexact science. He says it takes 3-5 hours for a heavy meal to leave the stomach. He refers to a landmark case in Canada. 

9:41 - Roux asks Botha about "gastric emptying". Referring to contents of Reeva Steenkamp's stomach on the night she was killed. Botha says he went over this evidence. State pathologist Gert Saayman said he found that Steenkamp ate 2-3 hours before her death.

9:40 - A forensic pathologist not necessarily a ballistics expert, says Botha.

9:39 - Botha has given evidence thousands of times, he says. He's done 25 000 autopsies, 6 000 of which involved shooting.

9:36 - Botha lists qualifications. Registered as a specialist pathologist since 1975.

9:35 - Judge reiterates that no visuals of Botha may be shown while he testifies. OP leans forward, looks focused.

9:33 - Roux says he will call between 14-17 witnesses. Pathologist Jan Botha called first because of "family health" reasons, says Roux (BR).

9:32 - Court resumes. OP's lawyer Barry Roux begins with an address about defence evidence.

9:30 - Judge Masipa is expected to arrive at any minute...

9:25 - 

9:23 - Op is crying, say reporters in court. He was also seen chatting to a psychologist.

9:11 - The only member of OP's family at court (thus far) is his sister Aimee Pistorius, say reporters.

Meanwhile, outside the court building:

9:03 - Pistorius might spend over a week on the witness stand, writes Alex Eliseev for Eyewitness News.

8:57 - Pistorius is in the dock and reading a book, says reporter Aldrin Sampear.

8:47 - Here we go again...

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