Johannesburg – The murder trial of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has been extended until mid-May, the office of the chief justice said on Sunday, March 23, 2014.
The dynamics of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial expanded beyond the confines of the witness box.
For the first time since the trial began on March 3, the double amputee faced up to the mother of the victim in court and greeted her, June Steenkamp, acknowledged the gesture by nodding.
This set the stage for the accused’s sister, Aimee, to later cross over to the victim’s camp in court followed later by his uncle who told Reeva’s mother that “we’re trying to save a life here”. An understandable sentiment from Pistorius’s close relative, perhaps, but one that may not have elicited much sympathy from a grieving woman who no longer has that option.
As far as fresh evidence went, police ballistics expert Captain Christiaan Mangena told the court the 29-year-old victim was standing inside the toilet cubicle and facing the door when she was hit in the right hip by the first bullet while the second missed. The third and fourth struck her in the arm and head but he couldn’t say for sure in what order. The prosecutions stance is that the first two non-lethal shots would have caused her to scream, meaning that Pistorius would have known it was his lover – and not an intruder, as he claims. Defence advocate Barry Roux dismisses this argument. Experts, he says, will testify the shots were made up of two “double-tap” bursts, meaning the model would not have had time to scream.
Surprise greeted the prosecution’s announcement that they were in the phase of wrapping up their case, causing proceedings to halt on Wednesday, March 19, so that remaining witnesses could be consulted before the trial resumes on Monday. The fact that the trial will probably go on for at least another fortnight is the reason Pistorius plans to sell his plush Pretoria home so he can foot the bill for his spiralling legal costs. Legal fees amount to as much as R55 000 per day, meaning another two weeks or more could put the overall total in the region of almost three million Rand.
The star athlete has been charged with premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and contravening the Firearms Control Act. Pistorius has said he thought there was an intruder in the house when he fired into a toilet cubicle, realising only afterwards it was Steenkamp. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.