Pistorius trial: Defence quiz 'screams' neighbour

Defence lawyer Barry Roux proposes a 'toilet test' in an attempt to prove a witness's evidence is unreliable

Defence lawyers of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius have resumed questioning a witness who told a court in Pretoria that she heard a woman's "terrible screams" on 14 February 2013.

Mr Pistorius has pleaded not guilty at the start of his trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

He shot dead the 29-year-old model and reality TV star at his home, saying he mistook her for an intruder.

The neighbour, Michelle Burger, said cries for help were followed by shots.

At the scene

There is much heavier rain here as the second day of the trial gets under way in the capital - so there are not so many people crowded at the entrance to the court, although the media are still here in force.

There is massive interest in the case - it is possibly the most publicised case since Jacob Zuma was cleared of rape in 2006, three years before he became president.

And it does not take much for matters to become political here. Outside court on Monday, members of the local African National Congress Women's League, sang struggle songs, telling me: "We are here for Reeva; she was killed and we want answers."

"She screamed terribly and she yelled for help. Then I also heard a man screaming for help. Three times he yelled for help," Ms Burger told the high court in the capital on the first day of the trial.

She said she called security and then heard four gunshots.

The arrest of the national sporting hero astounded South Africa.

The 27-year-old double amputee won gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and also competed at the Olympics.

Media warned

For the first time in South Africa, parts of the trial are being televised live, although Ms Burger's testimony, in Afrikaans, is being relayed in audio.

Some witness testimony is being excluded from TV broadcasts, although audio of the entire trial is being broadcast.

The court was briefly adjourned as questioning began on the second day of the trial over concerns Ms Burger's photograph was shown on television on Tuesday.

Oscar Pistorius shelters from the rain as he makes his way to North Gauteng High Court for the second day of his trial on 4 March 2014 There is heavy rain in Pretoria on the the second day of the trial as Oscar Pistorius arrives at the court
Members of the media and the public surround the vehicle of South African Paralympian star Oscar Pistorius as he leaves court on 3 March 2014 There is huge interest in South Africa and around the world about the trial
Olympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius with his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in Johannesburg on 26 January 2013 South Africa was stunned when the athlete shot dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp

Judge Thokozile Masipa warned that no photographs of witnesses from any sources were to be used by the media and any violators would not be "treated with soft gloves".

The BBC's Andrew Harding in court says defence lawyer Barry Roux began his remarks by outlining what he would focus on with Ms Berger's testimony today: Her credibility and reliability.


On Monday, Mr Pistorius pleaded not guilty to all charges, including the "wilful and intentional murder of Reeva Steenkamp" as the trial began.

Clickable 3D model of Oscar Pistorius' house

Pistorius home, graphic

His lawyer read out a statement from the athlete, giving his version of events of how Ms Steenkamp died, saying he believed his girlfriend was in bed when he shot at the toilet door in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year.

State prosecutors say Mr Pistorius planned the killing and shot Ms Steenkamp after a row.

If found guilty of premeditated murder, he could face life imprisonment.

He has also been charged with illegally possessing ammunition.

There are no juries at trials in South Africa, and his fate will ultimately be decided by Judge Masipa.

Much of the case will depend on ballistic evidence from the scene of the shooting, correspondents say.

Oscar Pistorius trial day one: Key moments in 90 seconds

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