Sport
Pistorius testifies in court for first timePublish Date: Apr 07, 2014
Pistorius testifies in court for first time
  • mail
  • img
newvision

HIS voice trembling with emotion, Oscar Pistorius took the witness stand in his own defence on Monday, saying the Valentine's Day shooting of his girlfriend last year had left him sleepless, terrified and plagued by nightmares.

The disabled South African track star, on trial for murder, apologised to the mother of model Reeva Steenkamp, saying he had fired four times through a toilet door at his luxury Pretoria home in the belief he was defending her from an intruder.

Steenkamp, a law graduate and model, was hit by at least three rounds, one of which - to the head - killed her almost instantly, the court has heard.

"I was simply trying to protect Reeva," Pistorius told the Pretoria High Court at the start of his testimony. Reeva's mother June Steenkamp, sitting stony-faced in the packed public gallery, bowed her head.

The 27-year-old Olympic and Paralympic star, who faces life in prison if convicted of murder, testified he had been on anti-depressants and sleeping pills because of his disturbed state of mind since the shooting.

"I'm scared to sleep. I have terrible nightmares about things that happened that night," he said.

"I can smell blood. I wake up to being terrified."

He recounted one occasion when he woke up so scared in the middle of the night that he crawled into a cupboard before calling his sister, who came round to sit with him.

"I wake up in a complete state of terror to the point that I would rather not sleep," he said, adding that his faith had helped pull him through.

"There have been times when I've just been struggling a lot," he said, fighting to maintain his composure.

"My god is my god of refuge."

Earlier, during graphic forensic testimony from a defence pathologist, Pistorius retched into a bucket in the dock.

Obsession with guns

The distraught, bespectacled figure was in stark contrast to the gun-obsessed, fast-living hothead that prosecutors had described in the first 16 days of the trial.

As well as murder, Pistorius is accused of firing a pistol through the sun roof of a friend's car while on a public road, and discharging a handgun under the table of a packed Johannesburg restaurant.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Now in its 17th day, the trial has gripped South Africa and millions of fans around the world who have seen in Pistorius a symbol of triumph over physical adversity.

The sprinter's lower legs were amputated as a baby but he went on to achieve global fame as the "Blade Runner", after the slender carbon fibre prosthetic limbs he wears on the track.

After winning gold medals at the Beijing and London Paralympics, he stunned the world by reaching the semi-finals of the 400 metres in the London Olympics against able-bodied athletes.

In testimony, Pistorius described his difficult early years as a disabled child before his sporting prowess earned him respect and recognition at school.

He also spoke of the pressures of fame, the toll travelling to athletics meetings took on his family and personal life and of his fears of life in crime-ridden South Africa.

"When we were growing up, we were exposed to crime - house break-ins, family members being assaulted and hijacked," he said. "Many members of my family have been victims of house break-ins and violent crime."

Exhausted

His defence hinges on his assertion, made under oath at his bail hearing, that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder hiding in the toilet and opened fire.

However, witnesses living close to Pistorius' home in a gated Pretoria community have testified to hearing the terrified screams of a woman before and during a volley of shots in the early hours of Feb. 14, 2014.

South Africa's firearms and self-defence laws make clear a person may only shoot if there is a direct threat to somebody's life - regulations Pistorius acknowledged in a written gun-licence test presented by the prosecution.

Ashen-faced, Pistorius said he had not slept the night before his testimony, leading Judge Thokozile Masipa to adjourn the session early after little more than an hour of cross-examination.

"He does look exhausted," Masipa said. "He does sound exhausted." As he stepped from the witness box, Pistorius slumped into the outstretched arms of his sister Aimee.

The trial resumes on Tuesday.

Reuters

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Commonwealth Games set to open today in Glasgow
Today, the curtains will rise on one of the biggest sporting events. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth will declare the 20th Commonwealth Games open in Celtic Park, home of Scotland’s biggest football club Celtic....
Commonwealth Games: Team Uganda miserable after allowance setback
Emotions swung to sharply contrasting extremes after news that Uganda’s allowances for the Commonwealth Games had been increased....
POOL: Kayiya, Tumwizukye dominate qualifiers
Former seed three Wasswa Kayiya beat Joseph Serwanja as veterans maintained top form in the Rubaga Division Nile Special Open qualifiers over the weekend....
Omar, Maxime, rules Garuga in Nomi Motocross championship
Maxime Van Pee and Ali Omar Yasser emerged winners of the MX1 and MX85 cc categories respectively in the Nomi National motocross championship on Sunday July 20, 2014 at Garuga racing track...
Poor roads delay Kapchorwa technical centre
State sports minister Charles Bakkabulindi has called upon the Uganda National Road Authority to speed up works on the 11km road that connects Kapchorwa to Teryet where the national High Altitude Centre is set to be constructed...
Commonwealth Games start Wednesday
Glasgow hosts the 20th edition of the Commonwealth Games starting Wednesday, the third time it will be held in Scotland (Edinburgh 1970, 1986)....
Should government review powers of kings?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter