The first few witnesses called by the state in the case of paralympian Oscar Pistorius testified about the night of the shooting, the screams they heard and the gender of the people they thought were responsible for the screams and shouting. On the third day of the trial, the focus shifted from the sounds which accompanied the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp to another shooting incident involving the man who killed her: her boyfriend Oscar Pistorius.
Some legal experts believe that the prosecution decided to highlight the incident of the gun that went off while it was being handled by Oscar Pistorius in order to paint the accused as a trigger-happy and reckless individual. The incident in question happened a month before Pistorius killed Steenkamp. Kevin Lerena, a boxer and friend of Pistorius, told the court that he was with the accused, Darren Fresco and Martin Rooney at a restaurant called Tasha’s in Melrose Arch when the incident happened.
Lerena explained that during the meal, Fresco had told Pistorius that he was “one up”, referring to the presence of a single bullet in the gun that Fresco was passing to Pistorius under the table. When the gun fired by accident, Lerena said that Pistorius was clear in his request to Fresco, asking him to take the blame in order to divert bad publicity away from the world-famous athlete.
Defence lawyer Barry Roux assured the court that Pistorius has a different account of the incident at Tasha’s. Pistorius plans to tell the court that he was angered that Fresco had handed him a gun which was loaded. Lerena responded by confirming that he was not aware that Pistorius had been angry, only that he had asked his friend to assume responsibility for the accidental gun discharge.
The next witness on the hot seat was Jason Loupis who owns the restaurant at which the gun went off. His version was that he had gone to the table to enquire about the shot and Fresco told him that the gun had fallen out of his pants and had gone off accidentally. Loupis expressed concern that his restaurant patrons could have been injured. The group apologised and left Tasha’s.
Pistorius’ lawyer hung on to the apology and cross-examined Loupis. Roux put it to the court that Pistorius had been very upset and also apologised for the incident. According to Roux, Pistorius made an offer to pay for the damages. This goes against the reckless, irresponsible and manipulative image of Pistorius that the prosecution appears to be trying to portray.
Other witnesses on day three included Maria Loupis, the wife of Tasha’s owner and Charl Johnson. Johnson is the husband of the state’s first witness Michelle Burger. He is expected to return to the stand to testify about the notes he says he took on the night of the shooting.
The trial of Oscar Pistorius in the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp will continue at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday morning at 9.30 am.