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Ilse de Lange
3 minute read
9 Apr 2014
6:00 am

Oscar relives fateful night

Ilse de Lange

Oscar Pistorius yesterday broke down completely and started sobbing and wailing loudly when he testified how he had found Reeva Steenkamp's bloodied body behind the bathroom door into which he had fired four shots.

June, mother of Reeva Steenkamp, listens to the testimony of paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius during his ongoing murder trial in Pretoria on Tuesday, 8 April 2014. Pistorius stands trial for the premeditated murder of Steenkamp in February 2013. Picture: Kim Ludbrook/EPA/Pool

Pistorius’ emotions had been building up since Monday morning when he retched, rocked and cried as a retired pathologist testified about the horrific injuries which caused Steenkamp’s death in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year.

The trial had to adjourn early on Monday because Pistorius was exhausted.

The pattern was repeated yesterday when he had to be led out of court, supported by his sister and brother, after breaking down.

After an adjournment, his advocate, Barry Roux, told Judge Thokozile Masipa Pistorius’s shirt was soaking wet and he could not ask the court to carry on.

There was an uncomfortable silence in court earlier in the day when Pistorius, who changed into a long-sleeved T-shirt and shorts, had to remove his prosthetic legs and stand next to the reconstructed bathroom door to illustrate his height when he was on his stumps.

He was clearly uncomfortable and quickly covered himself with a coat when the court adjourned.

Reading out numerous lo-ving text messages they had exchanged, Pistorius testified he and Steenkamp had a few arguments, but always settled their differences and were planning to move in together.

Steenkamp had cooked for him on the night before her death and they spent a quiet evening at home, retiring early.

After she completed her yoga exercises, he lay on the bed with his head on her stomach watching television. She was busy on the Internet, showing him photos.

Before he fell asleep he asked Reeva to bring the fans inside and lock the sliding door. He woke up in the early hours of the morning and found the door still open. Reeva was awake and asked him if he could not sleep.

Pistorius left the bed to move the fans and closed the curtains, leaving the room in darkness. As he was picking up Reeva’s jeans from the floor he heard a window in the bathroom slide open.

“…That’s the moment that everything changed. I thought there was a burglar gaining entry into my home… I heard this noise. I interpreted it as someone climbing into the bathroom,” he said. “The first thought that went through my mind was that I needed to get my gun. That I needed to protect Reeva and I.”

He whispered to Reeva to get down and phone the police.

Pistorius described how he moved into the bathroom on his stumps, leaning against cupboards and the wall with his firearm pointed in front of him, fearing he was about to be attacked any moment.

Overcome by fear, he started screaming for the burglar to get out of the house and for Reeva to phone the police.

When he heard the toilet door slamming and saw the window was open it confirmed his fears.

“Then I heard a noise from inside the toilet, which I perceived to be someone coming out of the toilet. Before I knew it I had fired four shots at the door,” he said.

According to Pistorius, he kept on shouting for Reeva but could not hear a response as his ears were ringing. It was only at this point that it occurred to him that it might be Reeva in the toilet.

When he realised Reeva was not on the bed, he went to the balcony and shouted for help, put on his prosthetic legs and tried to kick down the locked toilet door before breaking it down with a cricket bat.

“I was screaming and shouting the whole time. I don’t think I ever screamed like that. I sat over Reeva and I cried. I don’t know how long,” he said before he started to sob.