/ 9 April 2014

Pistorius admits watermelon comment was distasteful

Oscar Pistorius's testimony while on the stand has opened up many areas previously unexplored by other murder cases.
Oscar Pistorius's testimony while on the stand has opened up many areas previously unexplored by other murder cases.

Oscar Pistorius admitted on Wednesday that a remark he made about a watermelon exploding on bullet impact was distasteful.

"That day I shot at a watermelon and the comment I made was distasteful. It was made with reference to a watermelon and not to Reeva," he told the high court in Pretoria under cross-examination by prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

"Am I correct in saying that your shooting at a watermelon was to see what the effect would be if you shoot somebody in the brain?" Nel asked him.

Pistorius replied he had shot at many materials, including wood. The video, in which Pistorius refers to a gun as "a zombie stopper", was screened in the court.

It shows Pistorius and several other people at a shooting range. The murder-accused fires at a watermelon with a handgun.

As he hits it and it explodes, there are whoops of triumph.

"It's not as soft as brains but fuck it's a zombie stopper," a person who sounds much like Pistorius is heard saying.

The video found its way online.

'Don't argue with me'
Later, Nel cautioned Pistorius not to argue with him and answer his questions.

"Mr Pistorius, please answer the question. Don't argue with me. If you argue or think about other evidence you will get into trouble," Nel told Pistorius during cross-examination.

He was questioning the paralympic athlete about a statement submitted at his bail application that he went onto his balcony to bring a fan into his room.

This was in the early hours of February 14 last year, shortly before he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a locked toilet door, apparently thinking she was an intruder.

He found her slumped over the toilet after he broke the door down.

She was shot in the hip, arm, and head.

"I never went onto the balcony," Pistorius told the court.

He said he placed a stainless steel fan, which was on a tripod, with one leg on the balcony tiles, the other two legs on his bedroom carpet. He said he placed a second fan on the carpet in front of the first.

"I went onto the balcony to bring a fan in," Nel read from the statement.

Bail application
Pistorius read his bail application a couple of times before he testified in his murder trial.

"I went through my bail application a couple of times," he said under cross-examination from Nel.

"My version hasn't changed since then … I do know what I said there." Nel questioned Pistorius on whether he used evidence from other witnesses to reconstruct his version of events.

On Wednesday, Nel asked Pistorius what he could not remember and if he had used evidence by other witnesses to reconstruct his version.

He said he could not remember parts of carrying Steenkamp down the stairs or calling the security guard.

Nel asked Pistorius if he took evidence from other witnesses into account to construct his version from the time when he went to bed and when he shot Steenkamp.

Pistorius replied: "No." Pistorius said he went through the bail application a few times.

He said the first time he was asked to answer questions about what happened he was at the Brooklyn police station and he was very emotional.

When asked what else he did not remember, he said: "Reeva speaking to me as I sat up in bed … it would be phoning Mr Baba [security guard] which I don't remember."

Pistorius said for purposes of the bail application his defence did not put in all the details he had given to them.

Nel asked: "Nothing that's in the bail application is untrue?" Pistorius said it was all the truth and he had not changed his version since then.

Nel: "Your evidence in court was also true?" Pistorius replied: "That is correct My Lady."

The athlete is charged with murder and with contravening 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 has denied guilt on all the charges. – Sapa