‘The moment that changed everything’ – Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius leaves the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday, his second day of testifying in his murder trial. Photo: Corné van Zyl

A sobbing Oscar Pistorius broke down in court on Tuesday and was unable to continue testifying as he described the events that followed him shooting Reeva Steenkamp through the toilet door.

Judge Thokozile Masipa granted an early adjournment on Tuesday afternoon as Pistorius was unable to control his sobbing.

Pistorius told the court that he woke up in the early hours of the 14th February 2013.

He said his room was extremely humid,  he sat up in bed and noticed the balcony doors were still open.

‘Reeva was still awake. she rolled over and asked me, can’t you sleep baba?’

Steenkamp told Pistorius that she could not sleep. Pistorius had gone and moved the two fans which were near the open balcony doors.

Just before Pistorius started testifying about the moment that everything changed, his lawyer Barry Roux asked for a short adjournment as they were planing to give the court a demonstration.

Pistorius left the court room and when he returned he had changed into a short and a long sleeve shirt, similar to what he had worn that night.

Roux then asked Pistorius to remove his prosthetic legs and to stand on his stumps next to the set up toilet door in court.

Pistorius then continued his testimony and told the court that he was about to place a pair of jeans over an blue amplifier light after he moved the two fans, he then heard what sounded like the bathroom window sliding opening.

“My Lady, that is the moment that everything changed. I thought there was a burglar. I just froze. I did not know what to do. I interpreted it as somebody climbing in,” Pistorius said.

Pistorius told the court that the first thing which ran through his mind was that he needed to protect Steenkamp and himself, that he needed to get his gun.

After Pistorius got his gun, he said he first whispered to Reeva to get down on the floor and to phone the police. Pistorius then made his way to down the passage toward the bathroom by leaning on the wall with his left hand while he had his gun in his right hand. He was on his stumps.

“I was overcome by fear. I screamed at the person to get out. I screamed at Reeva to get down.  I was constantly aware this person could come at me at any time. I did not have my legs on. Just before I got to the bathroom, I stopped shouting.”

“Just before I got to the bathroom, I heard a door slam. It could only have been the toilet door. It confirmed to me that there was a person or people inside the bathroom at that time.”

Pistorius said when he entered the bathroom he was not screaming or shouting as he thought the intruder/s would come at him.

‘I was walking with left hand against the cabinet, away from entrance. Had my pistol in my right hand, peered into bathroom. I could see the bathroom window was open. I had my back against the wall for support.’

Pistorius said that once he saw that there was nobody around the corner who wanted to attack him, I stepped back and that the saw toilet door was closed.

‘I heard a noise from inside the toilet…..before I knew it I fired four shots.’

Pistorius said  he made his way back to the room, he kept on shouting for Steenkamp but that he could not hear anything as his ears kept ringing.

Pistorius explained to the court that once he reached the bed he placed his hands on the bed, searching for Steenkamp.  Pistorius said he continued to talk to Steenkamp as he thought she might be on the floor as he had earlier told her to get down.

‘Nobody was responding. I didn’t want to believe that it could be Reeva in toilet. I made my way back to the bathroom. I grabbed hold of the door handle, but found it locked from inside.

‘I went back to room. I put my prosthetic legs on and ran as fast as I could back to bathroom.’

Pistorius kicked the toilet door as he was just panicking. He then went to get the bat, screaming and crying all the time.

Once he got the bat he went back to locked door and started hitting the door, three or four times.

Pistorius started sobbing uncontrollably as he described that after he finally teared down the door, he found Steenkamp in the toilet.

Court briefly adjourned and Pistorius’s sister, Aimee ran to Pistorius to comfort him. Their brother Carl later joined and Pistorius was escorted out of the court.

The court on Tuesday morning heard how Pistorius described his loving relationship with Steenkamp. He explained the three WhatsApp messages which indicated fights between them. Pistorius read several loving and endearing messages between him and Steenkamp.

Pistorius also testified about the firearm related charge he face. He denied shooting out of the sunroof of a vehicle driver by his friend, Darren Fresco. Pistorius’s ex-girlfriend, Samantha Taylor was also in the vehicle. Both Fresco and Taylor had testified about the shooting incident.

On Tuesday morning Taylor tweeted: “Last lies you get to tell. You better make it worth your while,”.

This comes after Pistorius told the court of the first time he met Steenkamp in November 2012. He denied that he had cheated Taylor. When Taylor testified earlier this year she told the court Pistorius had cheated on her with Steenkamp.

Pistorius said that when he met Steenkamp, his previous relationship had ended. He had an email in which Taylor admitted that she had cheated with another man while Pistorius was overseas.  

“I met Reeva on the 4th of November and we went to the Sports Awards together.  While in the car she said to me do you know that this is going to make people talk, two weeks ago you were in the Seychelles with Sam,” he said

Pistorius said Steenkamp was attacked on social networks after she accompanied him to the Sports Awards.

“At the time Reeva asked Fresco to help her because she thought it was Sam that had been attacking her on Twitter setting up fake accounts and attacking her,” he said.

Pistorius also gave the court his version of what had happened with the second gun related incident at the Tasha’s restaurant in Melrose Arch.

Pistorius is expected back in the witness stand on Wednesday.

Corné van Zyl
online journalist

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