Towards the end of Thursday’s proceedings, state prosecutor Gerrie Nel then began setting out the theory that Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp “were having an argument” before the shooting. Meanwhile, Steenkamp’s mother said she was “unmoved” by Pistorius’ public apology.
Gerrie Nel today continued his cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius during the athlete’s trial for the alleged murder of Reeva Steenkamp. The barrister has been known as the â€œbull terrier” since his merciless interrogation of police commissioner Jackie Selebi for corruption charges and his ‘canine’ tactics were again on display in Gauteng High Court today.
Pistorius described his relationship with Steenkamp as â€œgood” and said: “We were in the foundation phase of our relationship – still opening up to each other, still starting to trust each other.” Later, when asked by Nel to explain why Steenkamp wrote in one of her messages to Pistorius, â€œI’m scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me,” the athlete replied: â€œShe’s scared of the feelings she had for me and the way I brushed her off.”
Nel claimed that the WhatsApp message between Pistorius and Steenkamp showed the relationship was ‘all about Pistorius’. He suggested the athlete was not willing to take responsibility for his actions.
Nel repeatedly referred to the testimony of Samantha Taylor and incidents she described such as when she claimed that Pistorius screamed at her. Pistorius denied the accusation and said: â€œThere were many things in Miss Taylor’s evidence that were lies.”
Discussing the incident when Pistorius discharged Fresco’s firearm in a restaurant, the athlete said: â€œI know my finger was not on the trigger… I don’t know how it went off.” Ballistics expert Chris Mangena had previously testified that it was impossible for the particular make of gun – a Glock – to discharge without someone’s figure being on the trigger. Referring to this contradictory evidence, Nel said: â€œThere’s something deeper here… I don’t understand, if you are presented with a set of facts that point at you discharging the firearm you are not willing to accept it.”
Pistorius claimed he wouldn’t expect the gun to be loaded and that he was â€œstupid” and â€œreckless” not to check, despite admitting that when he carried his own firearm it was with the magazine in and â€œone up”, meaning there was a bullet in the chamber. However, Pistorius claimed that circumstances were different in this case because of the fact that there was an additional safety mechanism on his weapon.
On the subject of the .38 calibre ammunition found in Pistorius’ safe, the athlete repeated his argument that it was his father’s and that Pistorius was just looking after it for him. Nel then revealed that Pistorius’ father refused to sign an affidavit confirming this, but Pistorius argued that this was not relevant and only a consequence of the fact that he has a distant and difficult relationship with him.
After lunch, Nel returned to the night of the shooting in an attempt to demonstrate the fact that Pistorius would have been aware that Steenkamp had gone to the bathroom were his version of events accurate because of the size of the room and the fact that the curtains were not completely closed, meaning the room would have been partially lit. Pistorius countered by saying that the room was â€œpitch black” once he’d moved the fans and closed the curtains, and that his back would have been to the room.
Nel then began setting out the state theory that Pistorius and Steenkamp â€œwere having an argument” before the shooting, arguing that the â€œonly reasonable inference” is that Steenkamp ran screaming. â€œThat’s why we heard screams…and (that’s why) the door never closed.” Pistorius vehemently denied this, though he did agree that if his version of events is true then a policeman must have moved the two fans, put the duvet on the floor and opened the curtains wider before the photos of the crime scene were taken.
Again visibly shaken though less emotional than during previous days of testimony, Pistorius at one point snapped at Nel and accused him of â€œmisleading the court” on the position of the smaller fan’s power cable.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror on Wednesday, June Steenkamp – mother of the deceased – said she was â€œunmoved” by his public apology on Monday, which some commentators have speculated was made in public rather than in private in an attempt to curry favour and sympathy from Judge Masipa and her legal advisors. â€œI look at Oscar the whole time to see how he is coping, how he is behaving. I’m obsessed with looking at him, it’s just instinctive, I can’t explain it,” said Steenkamp. â€œI keep thinking, ‘let me see how he’s taking this’. He has been very dramatic, the vomiting and crying… I don’t know whether he’s acting.”
The trial will resume on Friday.