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Pistorius trial: Third witness's privacy is compromised

Sapa

The third witness testifying in Oscar Pistorius's murder trial has been inundated with SMSes after the defence read out his cellphone number in court.

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius speaks to members of his legal team on the third day of his trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, (Alon Skuy, AFP)

The third state witness to testify in Oscar Pistorius's murder trial told the high court in Pretoria on Wednesday he was inundated with phone calls after his cellphone number was read out in court.

IT designer Charl Johnson said he got a voice message from someone asking him why he lied in court, as he should know that Pistorius did not kill his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The Paralympian and Olympian is on trial for the murder of Steenkamp on Valentine's Day. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Johnson, being questioned by prosecutor Gerrie Nel, had to switch his phone off after he was hit by calls after Tuesday's proceedings. When he turned it on again later he had a flood of messages waiting for him. One of these was from an "overseas person".

A member of Pistorius's defence team read out Johnson's cellphone number in court while cross-examining him on Tuesday.

Important evidence
Meanwhile, the court heard on Wednesday that Johnson gave important evidence without being prompted to do so.

Cross-examining Johnson, Barry Roux SC for Pistorius, said Johnson gave evidence that was consistent with his wife Michelle Burger's evidence, yet the couple claimed to have not discussed the merits of the case.

Roux said Burger had revealed certain facts while under cross-examination, but Johnson had freely revealed the same facts as he delivered his evidence-in-chief.

Johnson told the court he had avoided all media broadcasts, social media interaction and telephone and SMS communication.

"I've done my best to avoid any exposure to the proceedings," said Johnson.

He maintained that he never saw the statement his wife made or the testimony she delivered. Johnson told the court he took notes on his laptop and his tablet as he remembered more facts about that evening.

"I was advised by [an official] to take notes so as to be able to remember what happened as I was told these things [court cases] take time," said Johnson.

Notes made before trial can be proved
Roux asked whether the court would be able to tell when these notes were made, and if it could be proved that the notes were not made after Johnson had heard his wife's testimony.

"Yes," responded Johnson.

Burger completed her testimony on Tuesday.

The couple live at the Silver Stream Estate, which is next to Silver Woods Country Estate, the complex where Pistorius shot and killed Steenkamp.

During proceedings, a muffled electronic voice emerged from a journalist's laptop in the public gallery and squawked for several tense seconds as silence fell over the court. Judge Thokozile Masipa craned her neck to locate the source of the noise.

"What is this disturbance?" she asked.

The reporter in the second row of the public gallery began to apologise.

"Stand up," Masipa ordered her.

"It was a pop-up on my laptop that I didn't know about. I'm sorry," the she said.

"I hope this is the last time ... I don't like it," Masipa said, and proceedings continued.

The state will try to prove that Pistorius committed premeditated murder when he shot Steenkamp through the toilet door in his Pretoria home on February 14 last year. In addition he is charged with illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, and recklessly discharging a firearm in public. Pistorius contends he mistook her for an intruder when he shot through the toilet door. – Sapa

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