Nel concludes Pistorius cross-examination

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel on Tuesday concluded his cross-examination of murder-accused athlete Oscar Pistorius.

Pistorius is charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his Pretoria townhouse on February 14 last year.

He shot her through a locked toilet door. He claims he mistook her for an intruder and fired the four shots by accident.

Looking sternly at Pistorius at the end of the cross-examination, Nel said the court would find that Steenkamp ate three hours prior to being shot dead. Pistorius in an initial testimony told the court the couple had eaten hours before. 

The arguments that a neighbour claimed to have heard prior to the shootings happened as Steenkamp was eating, said Nel.

Nel said the "blood-curdling" screams that several neighbours claimed to have heard came from Steenkamp. Pistorius had testified that he was the one who was screaming as he tried to break down the door, trying to reach Steenkamp.

Pistorius fired four shots through the locked toilet door knowing that Steenkamp was behind it, he said.

Steenkamp ran
Nel said Steenkamp had run to the toilet, and Pistorius armed himself with the sole purpose of killing her. Pistorius had testified he did not see Steenkamp heading to the toilet. He claimed to have told her to call the police.

The reason for Pistorius being so emotional was due to him being overcome by what he had done, Nel said.

Earlier, Nel questioned Pistorius on who should take the blame for killing Steenkamp.

"Should we blame Reeva for not telling you she was going to the toilet?" Nel asked.

"No, my lady," Pistorius answered.

Nel then asked whether government should be blamed for Steenkamp's death.

When court adjourned for tea, Pistorius's sister Aimee walked up to the witness box where she hugged her brother.

'Magazine rack never moved'
Earlier on Tuesday, the high court in Pretoria heard that the magazine rack Pistorius claims he heard moving in the toilet cubicle moments before he shot and killed Steenkamp never moved, 

"That magazine rack never moved. That was where she ended up, with her head on the toilet," Nel told Pistorius during cross-examination.

"That's not correct my lady," Pistorius replied.

She was hit in the hip, arm, and head. Pistorius claimed he heard the rack moving before he fired the shots.

Nel showed the court a photo of the cubicle. It shows the rack next to the toilet, one of its legs in a pool of blood.

"It never moved into the blood," said Nel, pointing out the absence of smear marks on the floor.

"It looks like it was picked up and placed there," Pistorius replied.

Blood-soaked hair?
This was the third time Pistorius claimed something was moved around after Steenkamp was shot. He previously suggested that police moved a fan into the balcony door of his bedroom and a duvet off his bed onto the floor.

Nel pointed to blood smears on the rack and on the wall behind it, saying they were made by Steenkamp's blood-soaked hair.

Pistorius said the mark on the wall might have been caused by a sock from his prosthetic leg.

"The blood would not have covered the area around the leg if it had slided [sic] in there," said Nel.

"I don't know if I agree with that," Pistorius replied.

The Olympian and Paralympian also faces three charges of contravening the Firearms Control Act.

The courtroom on Tuesday heard that Pistorius did not scream when he saw his girlfriend's body lying slouched next to the toilet bowl after he shot her.

Screaming Pistorius 
Pistorius told the court he was screaming as he tried to break down the door to reach Steenkamp.

"Did you scream when you saw her?" Nel asked Pistorius.

"No, my lady," he responded.

"For the first time of you seeing her, you didn't scream?" Nel asked, adding that it must have been an unbelievable sight.

"You ran around screaming before but you didn't scream when you saw her?" Nel continued.

"I didn't see the purpose," Pistorius answered.

Nel said Pistorius had stated this as he believed it corresponded with what several witnesses had testified.

At least two of the witnesses earlier told the court they heard screams before the shots but there were no screams after the shots.

"No, my lady," Pistorius said, keeping his eyes focused on Judge Thokozile Masipa.

Call to security
Nel also questioned him on the phone call he made to security of the estate on which he lived.

One security guard had testified that he called Pistorius and enquired about what was happening at his home.

The guard told the court Pistorius had told him there was "no problem".

Pistorius disputed this, saying it "didn't make sense" for him to tell the guard there was nothing wrong.

"I phoned him first then he phoned me back," said Pistorius, trying to explain that he had approached security for help.

Picking at Pistorius's testimony, Nel asked whether Pistorius had not accidentally called security and then hung up.

Nel told the court Pistorius's version of events after he broke down the toilet door and reached Steenkamp had "little improbability".

"You struggled with the version prior to the shots because they were tailored," said Nel.

Rammed door open
Earlier in the day, the court also heard that Pistorius tried to smash the toilet door through which he shot Steenkamp, knowing very well that the door opened from the inside out.

Pistorius said he rammed the door with his shoulder and tried to kick it open.

"You did all that knowing the door opened inside out?" Nel asked him.

"Yes, my lady," Pistorius answered, directing his answer to Masipa.

Pistorius explained that he wanted to get the door open but he still had his loaded gun in his hand, while doing so.

He could not explain why he had not put it down.

Steenkamp's jeans
Nel also questioned why Steenkamp's jeans were found inside-out in Pistorius's bedroom that morning.

"Why did she leave her jeans inside-out?" Nel asked Pistorius.

"Did she not take it off quickly and not have time [to turn it the right way round]?" Nel asked.

Pistorius said he did not know why Steenkamp had left her jeans that way.

On Monday, the court heard that Steenkamp was a very neat person.

All the clothes she had taken to Pistorius's home had been neatly placed in her overnight bag, except for her jeans and a pair of slip-slops found next to Pistorius's bed.

She was wearing shorts and a top on the morning she was killed.

Meanwhile, a request to postpone the trial of Pistorius was submitted in the high court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Nel said, among other things, his colleague had another matter to attend to.

"There comes a time … and this is it, where the diary becomes clogged up," said Nel.

He also indicated that with the Easter long-weekend approaching, they had made personal arrangements, which they would like to attend to.

Nel said he had the defence's support in the matter.

He requested that the trial be postponed sometime later this week and resume on May 5.

Masipa said she would consider the application and possibly give a ruling on Wednesday. – Sapa


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