South Africans are absorbing each and every minute of the Oscar Pistorius trial broadcast live on television and online. Social networks are flooded with constant updates from local and international journalists and media personnel both inside as well as outside the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
On the second day of the trial, the defence team continued to grill Michelle Burger who lives in the complex next to the residence of Oscar Pistorius where Reeva Steenkamp was fatally shot. Defence lawyer Barry Roux was so thorough and repetitive when dealing with witness Michelle Burger that trial judge Thokozile Masipa even remarked that he had pretty much “exhausted” his line of questioning. Burger became emotional when she recalled the screams and shouting she heard on the night in question. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel offered protection for the witness by immediately objecting when Roux was on the verge of what Nel thought was badgering the witness.
Nel also interrupted the proceedings when a picture of a witness was shown on television. South African news channel eNCA added to the air of drama in the Pistorius trial by televising a still image of Michelle Burger. She is one of the witnesses who preferred not be shown during the live broadcasts of the trial. Shortly thereafter, the channel apologised and expressed that it had unintentionally misunderstood the court order regarding the specifics of how the trial would be broadcast. The Group Head of News, Patrick Conroy said that, going forward, eNCA will not publish any images of the witness who declined to appear on camera, regardless of where those images are sourced.
The second witness for the state spent some time explaining the differences between the male and female voices she heard on the night of Reeva Steenkamp’s death. Estelle van der Merwe maintained that she could tell the difference between the voices because the woman’s voice was higher. Van der Merwe was followed by Charl Johnson on the stand. John is the husband of Michelle Burger, the state’s first witness in the case. On several occasions, the court asked Johnson to speak louder as he is soft-spoken and was barely audible at times.
The prosecution seems to be sticking to a strategy which includes laying the foundation that a woman was heard screaming before the shots were heard. This could cast doubt on the defence’s story that Pistorius did not know who was in the bathroom when he fired the shots which killed Steenkamp. He has always said that he thought he was shooting an intruder.
Though Pistorius was calm and he concentrated during the testimony of the witnesses, he lost his composure when details of Steenkamp’s injuries were discussed. During his bail application last year, Pistorius struggled to contain his tears and on Tuesday, he appeared to relive the events of Valentine’s Day.
Court resumes on Wednesday at the North Gauteng High Court where paralympian and award-winning athletics star Oscar Pistorius stands accused of premeditated murder in the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.