Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
3 Mar 2014
1:44 pm

Oscar’s lawyer slams ‘character assassination’

Ilse de Lange

Oscar Pistorius has launched a virulent attack on the state's case in his plea explanation, claiming the state had embarked on a "character assassination".

Oscar Pistorius looks on just after arriving at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (Themba Hadebe, POOL)

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to a charge that he had murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Silver Woods estate in the east of Pretoria on Valentine’s day last year.

He also pleaded not guilty to two charges of unlawfully discharging shots by firing a shot through the open sunroof of a car while traveling on the road near Kempton Park in 2012 and firing a shot into the floor at Tasha’s restaurant in Melrose Arch in January last year.

In his plea explanation, that was read out by Advocate Barry Roux, Pistorius denied in the strongest terms that he had “unlawfully and intentionally” killed Steenkamp.

He said he and Steenkamp had been in a loving relationship and shooting her had been an accident because he mistakenly believed she was an intruder.

Pistorius made it clear that he would definitely take the stand.

According to the statement, he had spoken to Steenkamp who was in bed next to him before he went out to the balcony to fetch two fans, but she must have gone to the bathroom unbeknown to him.

When he heard the bathroom door sliding open he became fearful because he knew he was on his stumps and could not defend himself, he said.

He said the state had no basis for alleging that he had the intention to take Steenkamp’s life and relied on unsubstantiated allegations to back its claim.

According to Pistorius evidence during the bail hearing that he was wearing his prosthetic legs and was 1,5 meter from the toilet door when he fired the shots – which has since been refuted – had clearly been designed to suggest that he had pursued Steenkamp to the toilet and knew she was there.

He launched a sharp attack on the evidence of former investigating officer Hilton Botha and alleged the crime scene had been “contaminated, disturbed and tampered with”.

He was “unable to comprehend” on what basis the state could rely for saying that he had shot Steenkamp because of and argument and said the state sought to draw “unfair inferences not supported by fact”.

A woman who lives in a neighbouring estate, Michelle Burger, testified that she had woken up at 3am in the morning because of a woman’s blood curdling screams.

She heard a man screaming, and then the woman’s screams climaxing before she heard the sound of a shot, followed by a pause and then three more shots in quick succession.

She said one could hear that the woman was terrified and she believed there had been a burglary next door and that the woman’s husband might have been shot because she did not hear the man’s voice again.

She only realised that she might have overheard Pistorius shooting his girlfriend on hearing stories on the radio the next day, she said.

The trial continues.