Witness re-enacts screams she said she heard from Pistorius home

Witness recalls ‘very loud’ cries from ‘very high-pitched voice’

South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius speaks to relatives and friends in the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, yesterday. Photograph: EPA/Alon Skuy

South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius speaks to relatives and friends in the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, yesterday. Photograph: EPA/Alon Skuy

Wed, May 7, 2014, 01:00

The South African courtroom where Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee track star, is facing murder charges echoed to the haunting sounds of screaming yesterday as a defence witness re-enacted what she said were loud wails made by a man with a high-pitched voice at the athlete’s home on the night his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was shot to death.

The testimony was designed to support a defence assertion that screams heard at Pistorius’s home in the early hours of February 14th, 2013, were those of a man in agony. Prosecution witnesses said earlier in the trial they had heard a woman screaming as shots were fired.

Pistorius has said he shot and killed Steenkamp by mistake, thinking she was an intruder. By his account, he screamed loudly when he realised what had happened.

Two neighbours testified yesterday that the screams they had heard were made by a man. Mike Nhlengethwa, who lived next door to Pistorius, said he had heard “very loud” cries from a “very high-pitched voice.”

“The cry we heard was a really desperate one,” he said. “It was very loud, like he was in danger.” The man was screaming at one point, “no please, please, please, no,” Nhlengethwa said.

Another neighbour, Rika Motshuane, said she “only heard a man crying, very loud”.

“If I could have heard a female also screaming, I think I would have reflected it” in her initial statement to the police, she said, adding that she had not heard gunshots. “The crying was very loud and very close. I even thought it could be inside the house,” she said.

Invited to imitate the sounds she had heard, Motshuane screamed in a way that reporters in the courtroom described on Twitter as “a howl of pain”, “disturbing” and “dramatic”.
– (New York Times)