Pistorius takes the stand, apologises to Steenkamp family

Murder accused Oscar Pistorius. (Reuters)

Murder accused Oscar Pistorius. (Reuters)

Murder-accused Olympian and Paralympian Oscar Pistorius apologised on Monday to the family and friends of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot dead on Valentine's Day last year.

Taking the stand in the high court in Pretoria, a tearful Pistorius said: "I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Mr and Mrs Steenkamp, to Reeva's family."

"I don't like doing this to you, but I can hardly hear you," interjected Judge Thokozile Masipa.

He continued: "I wake up every morning and you [her family] are the first people I think of, the first people I pray for ... I was simply trying to protect Reeva."

He said he could promise her family she felt loved when she went to bed that night.

Pathologist questioned
A pathologist was questioned in the high court in Pretoria on Monday about the bullet holes in the toilet door behind which Steenkamp was shot dead.

"I never commented on the sequence of holes in the door and their correlation with the sequence of the wounds," pathologist Jan Botha said under cross-examination by prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

Botha was the first defence witness in Pistorius's murder trial. Pistorius shot four times through the locked door of his toilet cubicle, killing his girlfriend, apparently believing she was an intruder.

"You can't divorce the two," Nel challenged him.

He quoted from Botha's statement that "in all probability the sequence was ... the first one [shot] was in the hip."

'The ballistician's job'
Nel pounced on a statement by Botha that he had taken the height of the holes in the door into account.

Botha replied: "It's not my job to determine which bullet hole corresponded with which wound. That is the ballistician's job."

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and of contravening of the Firearms Control Act.

He allegedly fired a shot from a Glock pistol under a table at a Johannesburg restaurant in January 2013. On September 30 2012, he allegedly shot through the open sunroof of a car with his 9mm pistol while driving with friends in Modderfontein.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty on all the charges. – Sapa

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