JOHANNESBURG — South African athlete Oscar Pistorius approached one of his slain girlfriend’s close friends, Kim Myers, during a court recess Tuesday and whispered, “How can you sleep at night?” the Myers family lawyer said.
Attorney Ian Levitt said Pistorius spoke in a “very sinister tone” and deeply upset and disturbed Myers. She did not know what Pistorius meant, Levitt said.
Pistorius, 27, denied making the comment. He is on trial in a Pretoria court on murder charges in the death of Reeva Steenkamp, whom Pistorius fatally shot through the door of a toilet cubicle off the bathroom in his home in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013. He has said he thought the 29-year-old Steenkamp was an intruder.
Pistorius fired four bullets through the door, three of which struck Steenkamp, according to ballistics experts from the prosecution and defense. But he claims he never intended to shoot anyone, including an intruder, and did not consciously pull the trigger.
Pistorius, a double amputee who used carbon-fiber leg blades to run in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, has often wept and vomited during the trial, particularly during gruesome pathology evidence describing wounds in Steenkamp’s head, hip, hand and arm.
“It was a sinister question. It was clearly an attempt to intimidate my client,” said Levitt in a phone interview.
“I think it’s an abomination that he would one day cry crocodile tears and wretch in the witness box and another day approach one of (Steenkamp’s) best friends, if not her best friend, and intimidate her,” Levitt said. He said Myers’ mother, Desi, was “furious.”
“It’s an abomination that someone who’s accused of murdering my client’s best friend could approach her and say something to intimidate her,” Levitt said. “What makes it worse, he approached her in front of witnesses.”
Steenkamp lived with the Myers family in Johannesburg and called Desi and Cecil Myers her Johannesburg “parents.” She was close to their daughters Gina and Kim. Members of the Myers family have been regularly in court.
The night Steenkamp died, she sent a text message to Cecil Myers saying she had decided to stay overnight with Pistorius. On Valentine’s Day, Cecil Myers had the gruesome task of identifying her body.
Levitt said a witness saw Pistorius speak to Kim Myers on Tuesday and saw her recoil in shock. He added it was obvious Pistorius would deny making the remark to Myers, just as he pleaded not guilty to the murder charges in the Steenkamp case.
A policeman was reportedly among those who saw Pistorius speak to Kim Myers.
Levitt reported the alleged incident to prosecutor Gerrie Nel and the National Prosecuting Authority, but said that unless Myers pressed charges, no further action was expected. He said Kim Myers would continue to attend court “in support of Reeva.”
Defense lawyer Barry Roux introduced Pistorius neighbors who testified that on the night of the shooting they heard a man crying out, but no woman screaming. One testified to hearing a bang, but none reported hearing several gunshots, as other neighbors have testified to hearing.
Roux asked two neighbors to re-enact the high pitched screams they said they heard that night. Eontle Nhlengethwa and Ricca Motshuane both re-enacted the loud sound of what they said was a man crying. Motshuane said the man sounded as if he were in pain and she wondered if a security guard had been shot. Nhlengethwa said the man was screaming “Help, help, help.”
Roux told the court he expected to finish presenting Pistorius’ defense by next week. The trial was adjourned until Thursday. MCT