Screams could not have been Reeva’s

Judge Thokozile Masipa delivers her judgement in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday, 11 September 2014. Picture: Phill Magakoe/Independent Newspapers/ Pool

The screams heard on the night that Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp could not have been hers, Judge Thokozile Masipa said on Thursday, delivering her verdict in the murder trial of the paralympian.

“Steenkamp did not breathe for more than a few seconds after she was shot. She could not have screamed,” Masipa said in the High Court in Pretoria.

Masipa said it was common cause that screams were heard from Pistorius house that night. The screams heard shortly after shots and before sounds of a bat could not have been Steenkamp. Only Pistorius could have screamed.

Michelle Burger and her husband Charl Johnson gave similar testimonies that they had been woken up by a women screaming for help on the night Steenkamp was killed, which was followed by a man screaming “help, help, help”.

Burger testified for the State that she heard the “blood-curdling screams” of a woman the night of the shooting.

At the time, she and her husband lived in a housing complex neighbouring the Silwer Wood estate where Oscar shot dead Reeva in a toilet cubicle in his house on February 14 last year.

In his cross-examination, Barry Roux, SC, for Pistorius, argued that the couple’s testimony was so similar that Johnson’s statement could have been used as a “template” for Burger’s.

Masipa agreed with the defence that Burger and Johnson’s evidence was “unreliable”, and dismissed their evidence in its entirety.

She said Burger and Johnson were “not dishonest”, they were “genuinely mistaken”. Burger was the witness who heard a woman’s screams.

Before Masipa adjourned for a short tea break she dealt with witness testimony and timeline, Steenkamp’s stomach content and defence evidence.

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Natalie Grobler
Content Editor

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