The trial of the year has commenced in Pretoria, South Africa, and has transfixed the world. South African Olympian, Oscar Pistorius is accused of murdering his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on 14 February, 2013.
On Day One of the trial, Pistorius pleaded not guilty to all of the charges that he faces. The state witness, Michelle Burger took her seat in the witness stand. Burger and her husband live in a gated community adjacent to Pistorius’ home. Burger recalls that “you could hear blood curdling screams” coming from Pistorius’ home at 3am on the night of February 14. Burger claims that she heard the screams before hearing four gunshots, “Bang, bang… bang bang,” described Burger in an anxious voice.
The state prosecutors allege that the murder of Steenkamp was premeditated, after the couple had an argument. However, a written statement from Pistorius says, “that there was no argument…. It could not be further from the truth.” Pistorius believed his life was in danger, and that he had to protect himself, and Reeva.
On Day Two, Burger was cross-examined by the defense lawyers, until proceedings adjourned because Burger’s face was shown on a South African TV Station. When the questioning recommenced, Burger recalls that she heard a man scream for help before the gunshots. Defense Lawyer, Barry Roux then asked Burger why a man would shout for help if he was trying to kill his girlfriend. To which Burger responded that perhaps Pistorius was trying to cover his tracks. Burger finished her testimony in tears.
Two more neighbours, Estelle Van Der Merwe, and Charl Peter Johnson (Michelle Burger’s husband) also took the stand on Day 2. Both witness accounts mimicked that of Burger’s. All three witnesses heard a woman’s terrifying screams, and four sounds, that can best be described as bang…bang.
On Tuesday, Reeva’s mother June Steenkamp gave an interview to NBC, in which she said that she has not passed judgement on Pistorius. “It’s actually important to forgive him, for me, because I don’t want to live with bitterness in my life.”
Oscar Pistorius faces a life sentence, if convicted of premeditated murder.