#UPDATE: This is what the judge has said so far about the #OscarPistorius trial

by Chidi Okoye

Today, Oscar Pistorius, the South African athlete, who allegedly killed his girlfriend months ago, will know whether he’s guilty or not.

We bring you proceedings from the court, as it happens, from the tweets of @SmithInAfrica, who is in the courtroom.

  • At high court in Pretoria. Oscar #Pistorius looking calm in dark suit, white shirt, black tie. Brother Carl in wheelchair after car crash.
  • Judge Thokozile Masipa enters with familiar slow walk, bows and sits. Tell #Pistorius he can sit down. Begins reading judgment.
  • “The accused shot and killed Steenkamp, the deceased. At the time the shots were fired, the deceased was inside the locked toilet.”
  • Masipa says the accused was charged with murder and goes on the detail the three other firearms charges against
  • “The accused described the incident as a tragic one that had occurred after he mistakenly believed an intruder or intruders had entered his home and posed an imminent threat to the deceased or to him.”
  • Masipa quotes from #Pistorius’s defence statement but notes that there was no explanation of plea on the three other firearms charges.
  • “The accused also admitted that the gunshot wounds were inflicted by him.”
  • The accused admitted that a shot went off while the firearm was in his possession. Admitted did not have licence.
  • The accused said he believed the deceased was an intruder who posed a threat to his life and the deceased. #Pistorius
  • Masipa describes state witnesses who said they heard voices, gunshots, screaming. #Pistorius
  • “It is common cause that on 14 February 2013, shortly after 3am, screams were heard from the accused’s house.” #Pistorius
  • “Three of the shots struck the deceased… The deceased died from multiple gunshot wounds… The accused called for help”
  • The accused was very emotional after the incident and tried to resuscitate her.
  • “There were a number of issues that arose during the course of the trial. These issues took up court time and rightly so”
  • “Whether police contaminated scene, length of extension cord, authenticity of photos. “These issues have paled into insignificance.”
  • “There were no eyewitnesses.” But some witnesses did describe “what they heard or thought they heard”.
  • “During the course of the trial it became clear that some of the sounds interpreted by witnesses were not gunshots but cricket bat.”
  • “It is common cause that only four shots were fired by the accused that morning.” So some sounds must have been cricket bat on door.
  • “Burger and Johnson were correctly criticised in my view as unreliable. But unfairly criticised for making almost idential statements
  • “I do not think Mr Johnson or Ms Burger were dishonest. “They were, however, genuinely mistaken in what they heard, as the “chronology of events will show.”
  • “Voice identification. “None of the witnesses had ever heard the accused cry or scream, let alone when he was anxious.
  • “Even Samantha Taylor… had to concede she had never heard him scream when he was facing a life threatening situation.”
  • “It makes no sense to say she did not hear the accused scream “Get out!” at the top of his voice. Why did shoot four times, not once?
  • “What is not conjecture is that the accused armed himself with a loaded firearm” when he heard a suspected intruder.
  • “Untruthful evidence does not always justify the conclusion that the accused if guilty.” Depends on the circumstances of each case.
  • The court is not entitled to convict on his explanation unless it is beyond reasonable doubt that is it false. Onus on the state.
  • “On count one, the accused is charged with premeditated murder. “The evidence is purely circumstantial.”
  • “The chronology set out in the timeline tip the scales in favour of the accused’s version in general.”
  • “The state has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder. There are not enough facts.”

The court is on 5 minutes recess.

Masipa running through different legal categories of intention, identity and killing.

  • “The fact the person behind the door turned out to be the deceased and not an intruder is irrelevant.”
  • The accused claim putative private defence.
  • “Would a reasonable man in the position of the accused have acted in the same way?”
  • “The accused is the only person who can say what his state of mind was at the time he fired the shots that killed the deceased.”
  • The accused said he did not intend to kill the deceased but the court is entitled to look at the evidence as a whole.
  • There is nothing to suggest  Pistorius’ thats belief there was an intruder was “not honestly entertained”.
  • There is no dispute that the accused “acted unlawfully” when he fired the shots.
  • Pistorius did believe that there was an intruder. He gave this version to witnesses immediately after the killing.
  • “The question is did the accused see the possibility of the resultant death… The answer has to be no.”
  • To find otherwise would be to say the accused’s reaction was “faked”, he was “play acting” for onlookers at the time
  • “The accused cannot be found guilty of murder, dolos eventualis. That, however, is not the end of the matter.”

Pistorius sobs in the dock and is comforted by sister Aimee and lawyer Brian Webber.

The Judge will next consider culpable homicide, she adjourns for lunch break.

Court session resumes.

  • “We will now deal with negligence and culpable homicide.”
  • “Although the test for negligence is objective, certain subjective factors are applied.”
  • Masipa quotes case law but notes: “What was reasonable in 1933 would not be necessarily reasonable today.”
  • “Defence cited his disability but “vulnerability is not unique as millions of people in this country can fit into this category”.
  • “There are many people in this country without any form of security at all.”
  • “All the accused had to do was pick up his cellphone and call security or the police.” He could have run to the balcony and screamed
  • There is “no explanation” why he did not call for help before going to the bathroom
  • Defence urged this court to consider the peculiar circumstances of the accused when determining if he acted negligently.
  • “I agree that the conduct of the accused may be better understood by looking at his background.”
  • However, it is an explanation, not an excuse. Many people in this country have been victims of crime and not resorted to firearms.
  • “The accused had reasonable time to reflect, to think and to conduct himself reasonably. I am not persuaded that a reasonable person with the accused’s disability would have fired four shots into the small toilet cubicle.”
  • A reasonable person would have foreseen that the person in the toilet would be hit and possibly killed
  • “He was competent in the use of firearms as he had undergone some training.”
  • Would a reasonable person have foreseen that whoever was behind the door might have been struck by a bullet and die? Answer is yes.
  • “Did the accused fail to take reasonable steps to guard against the consequences? Yes.”
  • “I am of the view that the accused acted too hastily and was negligent.” Court adjourned until tomorrow.

That’s it for today. Judge Thokozile Masipa has adjourned the case until tomorrow.


At high court in Pretoria. Oscar Pistorius enters looking quite upbeat. Lots of people shake his hand. He hugs lawyer Barry Roux and sits.

Judge Thokozile Masipa resumes. Outlines charge relating to Pistorius firing gun through the sunroof of a car. Witnesses Taylor and Fresco.

  • Masipa runs through Taylor’s evidence. “The accused took his firearm and shot through the open sunroof of a vehicle.”
  • “He denied that the incident happened in the manner described by Taylor.”
  • The assessment of the evidence. It was pointed out by counsel for the accused that Taylor and Fresco contradicted each other.
  • State counsel disagreed, saying there was no reason why Fresco and Taylor would want to implicate the accused.
  • Their versions of where, how and why it happened were so different it was tempting to think they described different incidents.
  • Fresco proved to be a “dishonest witness”
  • “Mendacity on one aspect of a witness’s evidence does not mean” that all the evidence is tainted, but it does mean exercise caution.
  • “Taylor was a former girlfriend of the accused. It is common cause that the relationship did not end amicably” Accused of cheating.
  • “Like the evidence of Fresco, the evidence of Taylor needs to be approached with a degree of caution.”
  • Evidence has “ring of truth, but in a criminal case that is never the end of the matter”. State must prove beyond reasonable doubt.
  • “This court does not have to believe the accused’s version. He bears no onus to prove his innocence.”
  • “The state witnesses contradicted each other on crucial aspects.” The evidence falls short of standard required in criminal matter.
  • “The state has failed to prove the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.” He must be acquitted.
  • In January 2013, while having lunch in a restaurant in Joburg, handled a firearm of one of his friends and a shot was discharged.
  • Masipa recounts witness evidence: “The accused was concerned that someone might have been hurt and apologised.”
  • “In my view it really does not matter what caused the firearm to discharge.” It will not assist the court in determining negligence.
  • “He may not have intentionally pulled the trigger. However, that does not absolve him from the crime of negligence.”
  • “The accused’s version was that he was angry with Fresco for having handed him a loaded firearm.” He reprimanded him.
  • Kevin Lerina was a “good witness and I detected no bias against the accused”. The court also accepts the evidence of Fresco.
  • Pistorius was trained in firearms. “He should not have asked for a firearm in a restaurant full of patrons.”
  • The state has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt that the accused contravened the sections of the Firearms Control Act.
  • Masipa on charge of illegal possession of ammunition. The state must prove the accused had “the necessary mental intention”
  • If someone had a firearm merely to return it to the owner, it would be an aberration of justice to find them guilty of possession.
  • The state made much of the fact the accused’s father refused to make an affidavit. “In my view that does not assist the state.”
  • The state has failed to prove the accused had the necessary animus. He therefore cannot be found guilty on this count.
  • Masipa returns to murder charge: The state’s evidence was “circumstantial”. The accused’s version “could reasonably possibly be true”.
  • Masipa returns to murder charge: The state’s evidence was “circumstantial”. The accused’s version “could reasonably possibly be true”.
  • Phone records support Pistorius’s version. He acted promptly, called security, prayed to God, tried to resuscitate deceased.
  • “It cannot be said the accused did not entertain a genuine belief there was an intruder in the toilet who posed a threat to him.”
  • “It cannot be said that he foresaw that the deceased or anyone else would be killed when he fired shots at the toilet door.”
  • “The accused acted negligently when he fired shots into the toilet door, knowing there was someone behind the toilet door.”
  • “A reasonable person would have foreseen the possibility that the person behind the door might have been killed by the shots.”

Masipa on summary of charge of firing through car sunroof:  “The state failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.”

Masipa on charge of firing gun in restaurant: The accused showed disregard for patrons of the restaurant.

  •  Charge of unlawful possession of ammunition. “The state failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of the charge.”
  • “Mr Pistorius, please stand up.”
  • “The unanimous decision of this court is the following.”
  • Masipa on murder charge: “The accused is found not guilty and discharged. Instead he is found guilty of culpable homicide.”

Pistorius stands ramrod straight, hands in front of him, staring at judge. Family watch tensely from front row.

  • Not guilty of firing through sunroof. Guilty of restaurant incident. Not guilty of illegal possession of ammunition.
  • “You may take a seat, Mr Pistorius.”
  • “I need to address the issue of the indemnity of Mr Fresco.”
  • Masipa speaks to lawyer about Fresco indemnity: “Both Mr Nel and Mr Roux have already addressed me on the issue.”
  • Masipa on Fresco: “The question is whether or not he should be discharged from the prosecution in respect of count three.”
  • Defence argued Fresco’s evidence was “contradictory and improbable, if not impossible”. Gave false evidence in relation to sunroof.
  • This court was mindful that “his evidence ought to be approached with caution… He was dishonest in the sunroof incident.”
  • “No one in infallible, not even lawyers.”
  • Fresco “is discharged from prosecution”.

Pistorius leans forward, rubs his eyes and drinks from a water bottle. He is hugged by uncle then rests his forehead against that of sister Aimee. Sombre expressions, not celebratory.

Steenkamp’s close friend Gina Myers breaks down in tears.

Reeva’s mother June Steenkamp shaking head and hugging and comforting another family member who is visibly upset.

  • Roux begins to discuss bail, quoting the law. “I think, with respect, it’s premature to consider sentence in the current case.”
  • There is no reason not to allow him out on bail. We need consultations, experts in relation to a possible sentence.
  • Nel: I’ve consulted with Roux about putting facts before the court. “I do disagree with Mr Roux.” This is a serious case.
  • Nel: The accused was under the impression he might be acquitted. Now he knows has been convicted of a serious offence.
  • Nel: The accused sold three properties while he was on bail. “The accused sold his house. He does not have a house.”
  • Nel: While out on bail, the accused was involved in an incident at a nightclub “in the early morning hours” and removed.
  • Nel: The family indicated to the media in a press release “his escalating sense of alienation… self-harming behaviour”.
  • Nel: A professor indicated he may be a suicide risk. The court should consider all these factors.
  • “The accused was convicted in the high court of negligently killing the deceased.” Bail is not in the interests of justice.
  • Roux: I’m not saying culpable homicide is not serious but “he was out on bail on a far more serious charge”
  • Roux: “All the factors referred to in the bail application are still valid” except the disposal of properties.

Masipa asks where is the accused staying? Roux reads out Arnold Pistorius’s home address to the world.

Court session resumes…

  • Masipa: “After the conviction, the defence has made an application for bail to be extended. That application has been opposed.”
  • The state says Pistorius has been convicted of a serious offence, does not own property and was involved in a nightclub incident.
  • The state says the family made a statement to the press “admitting that the accused was self-harming”
  • The defence conceded the accused had been found guilty of a serious offence but said denying bail was not in interests of justice.
  • The onus is on the state to persuade this court that it is not in the interests of justice to extend bail. “I am not so persuaded.”
  • If state had any reason to suspect there was anything untoward regarding property sales, the state would have investigated long ago.
  • “I have used my discretion in favour of the accused. I grant the application to extend the bail of the accused.”

Roux proposes 13 October for sentencing. Nel agrees.

Masipa asks Roux to talk to Pistorius’s uncle to ensure no further incidents before sentencing.

Court proceedings for today comes to an end. Sentence will be heard on October 13.

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