THE PRESIDING JUDGE in the Oscar Pistorius murder case has chided members of the public for using the trial as a source of entertainment.
Following a burst of laughter from the prosecuting lawyer and the gallery today, Judge Mapisa said, leaning forward impatiently:
“For those of you who possibly think this is entertainment, it is not.”
The admonishment came as the athlete was being cross-examined by State counsel Gerrie Nel.
His gruelling questioning had the Paralympian in tears again by the lunch adjournment.
Nel accused his witness of caring more about himself than about the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot dead at his Pretoria home last Valentine’s Day.
While Pistorius has admitted to shooting the 30-year-old model, he denies murder, claiming it was a case of mistaken identity.
Nel combed through WhatsApp messages sent between the couple this morning, picking out certain words, phrases and sentences.
He referenced numerous times how the court could not hear Reeva’s side of the story because of Pistorius’s actions.
In an attempt to evaluate your relationship, we rely on what you say, it was the other person in this relationship that was killed by you.
The state charges that Pistorius intentionally fired his gun at a closed bathroom door, knowing his model girlfriend was inside, after the couple argued.
But Pistorius says he fired the four shots that hit the law graduate, model and aspiring actress, thinking that she was an intruder coming out to attack him.
Today, he reiterated his belief that, while he shot at the door, it was an accident.
Steenkamps in court
June and Barry Steenkamp, Reeva’s parents, have been a permanent fixture in the courtroom this week.
Nel accused Pistorius of apologising to the victim’s family at the beginning of his evidence in order to make himself feel better.
The athlete denied the suggestion, adding that he did not think it was appropriate to talk to the couple before then.
He had never met Reeva’s parents during their relationship.
June Steenkamp spoke to British newspaper, the Daily Mirror, about the trial. She told journalist Sharon Feinstein that she is “obsessed with looking” at Pistorius.
“I keep thinking: ‘let me see how he’s taking this’. He has been very dramatic, the vomiting and crying.
“I think he’s just about keeping himself together. I don’t know whether he’s acting.”
She also noted that her presence at the trial “unnerves” the accused.
He must see me there in the court, he must feel my eyes boring into him, I think it makes a lot of difference.
She also said that he has gone from “hero to devil”.
Although she sits unemotional in court, June Steenkamp revealed she cries each night in her hotel room. However, she does not care if Pistorius is convicted and sent to prison.
“What difference is it going to make to me if he goes to prison for 25 years or is allowed to walk free?
I’m not a person who wants to punish him. I want my daughter back, but it’s never going to happen.
“She was the most wonderful, beautiful person, inside and out, and she was everything to Barry and me — our lives are destroyed.”
The trial resumes at 1pm (Irish time).
Additional reporting by AFP