“With this type of ammunition, My Lady, you get maximum wounding…It opens up if it hits the target,” ballistics expert Captain Chris Mangena said to questions by prosecutor Gerrie Nel.
He was testifying in Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial.
Pistorius shot Steenkamp through the locked toilet door in his Silver Woods Country Estate townhouse in the early hours of February 14 last year, apparently thinking she was an intruder.
Nel asked Mangena to explain what he meant by target, saying the bullets had not broken up when they penetrated the toilet door.
“A human being,” Mangena said.
“It creates six ‘talons’. These talons are sharp and cut through the organs. If it hits a bone it breaks into fragments.”
Pistorius sat leaning forward in the dock as Mangena spoke, pressing his hands to his ears. Steenkamp was shot in the hip, arm, and head.
Mangena said unlike full metal jacket ammunition, Black Talon ammunition did not pass through a human body as it broke up and lost all its energy.
He said the “most likely” position Pistorius was in when he fired the shots was on his stumps.
He explained the safety mechanism of the Glock 27 pistol used in the shooting. It had no thumb safety mechanism, but a “trigger safety”.
“When you pull the trigger you have to pull it in the centre where the trigger safety is.”
If the trigger was pulled lower down, or up, the safety would not be released and the firing pin would not move.
The paralympic athlete has been charged with the premeditated murder of Steenkamp and contraventions 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.