Voice of America (Washington, DC)

24 March 2014

South Africa: Pistorius Girlfriend Said in Text Message 'I'm Scared of You'

Photo: Marco Longari/Sapa
South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius cries in court (file photo).

Week four of the Oscar Pistorius trial began Monday with police reading text messages from the athlete's girlfriend who said she sometimes was afraid of Pistorius.

Police say Reeva Steenkamp sent a message less than three weeks before Pistorius shot her. They said the message was, "I'm scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me and of how you will react to me."

A police expert, Francois Moller told the court that officials analyzed more than 1,000 mobile phone messages sent between the couple, and found that about 90 percent of them were normal and loving exchanges. However, other exchanges indicated problems between the two.

"I do everything to make you happy and to not say anything to rock the boat with you. You do everything to throw tantrums in front of people," read Moller.

Pistorius has acknowledged killing Steenkamp, but says he thought he was shooting at an intruder through a bathroom door. Prosecutors say the shooting was deliberate.

Also Monday, a neighbor of Pistorius testified that she heard screams from both a woman and a man on the morning the athlete killed his girlfriend.

The testimony from Anette Stipp was consistent with other witnesses who said they heard a woman's screams coming from the home of Pistorius around 3 a.m. on February 14, 2013.

Defense lawyers have argued that neighbors were actually hearing Pistorius scream in a high-pitched voice.

Questioned by prosecutor Gerrie Nel, Stipp testified that she heard gunshots followed by what she called "terrified, terrified screaming" from a woman. Stipp also said she heard a man screaming. She said all the screaming stopped after what she called a second set of shots.

The witness said she told her husband Johan, who testified earlier in the trial, that she thought a "family murder" had taken place.

Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to charges of premeditated murder. The South African court hearing the case said Monday that after a two-week recess in April, the trial will continue until May 16.

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