6 May 2014

South Africa: Oscar Neighbours Did Not Hear Shots

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

The neighbours on either side of murder-accused Oscar Pistorius's house did not hear gunshots on Valentine's Day early morning last year, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Tuesday.

"In the early hours... I heard a man crying and to me the crying was a cry of pain," neighbour Rika Motshuane said.

"Immediately I woke my husband up and asked him 'did you hear?' He said 'yes but I thought I was dreaming'."

Motshuane said the man's crying woke her around 3.20am.

"The crying was very loud and very close. I remember thinking it could have been in the house."

Motshuane and her husband were one of Pistorius's neighbours in the lavish Silver Woods Estate, Pretoria.

Barry Roux SC, for Pistorius, who was leading Motshuane in giving evidence, asked her if the scream was high-pitched. He also asked her to demonstrate. Motshuane screamed twice for the court.

"The crying was continuous," she said.

Pistorius sat with his head down while Motshuane tried to replicate his "high-pitched" scream.

Roux asked Motshuane if she heard a woman scream, to which she responded no.

Pistorius has claimed he thought Steenkamp was an intruder when he shot her dead in his Pretoria home on February 14 last year. He has been charged with murder as the State tries to prove its theory he shot her during an argument. Pistorius fired four times through the locked door of his toilet, apparently thinking an intruder was about to emerge and attack him. Steenkamp, who was behind the door, was hit in the hip, arm, and head.

Pistorius is also charged with three alleged contraventions of the Firearms Control Act -- one of illegal possession of ammunition, and two of discharging a firearm in public. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

During cross-examination on Tuesday, prosecutor Gerrie Nel questioned Motshuane on whether she was sure she only heard a man crying.

Motshuane said if there was a female she would have said so in her statement to police.

Earlier, Pistorius's closest neighbour Michael Nhlengethwa said he only heard a man shouting for help. His wife Eontle, a housewife, said she heard a single bang before she heard the cry.

"It was very loud because it woke me up," she told the court through an interpreter.

"I woke up my husband and asked if he had heard the sound."

Nhlengethwa said her husband left their bedroom to investigate whether the sound came from inside their house. She then heard three successive cries for help.

Roux asked Nhlengethwa to replicate the cry she heard. She yelled once.

The trial was adjourned until Thursday.

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