"Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius told a friend to take the
blame for him accidentally firing a pistol under the table in a
packed Johannesburg restaurant in January 2013, a month before
he killed his girlfriend, his murder trial has heard.
Testifying at the trial of the South African Olympic and
Paralympic track star, professional boxer Kevin Lerena
described how he, Pistorius and two others had been having
dinner at Tashas restaurant when the gun went off.
The charge of firing a gun in a public place is part of
prosecution attempts to portray the 27-year-old athlete, who
shot dead model Reeva Steenkamp on Feb. 14 last year, as a
Pistorius denies murdering Steenkamp, saying he fired four
rounds from a 9 mm pistol through a locked toilet door at his
luxury Pretoria home after mistaking her for an intruder.
Lerena, who goes by the ring name "The KO Kid", said one of
the group at the table in Tashas, Darren Fresco, passed his
pistol under the table to Pistorius during the lunch, telling
him there was "one up", indicating a round was in the
"A shot went off. Then there was just complete silence,"
Lerena said. "I looked down at the floor and exactly where I
looked down, where my foot was, there was a hole in the
"I had a little graze on my toe, but I wasn't hurt," he
Restaurant owner Jason Loupis told the court 220 diners had
been present at the time. A child was sitting at the table
next to Pistorius, his wife Maria added in her testimony.
"TAKE THE BLAME"
Pistorius immediately apologised to his friends and checked
they had not been hurt, but then turned to Fresco and asked
him to take responsibility, Lerena said.
"'Please take the blame for me - there's too much media hype
around me'," Lerena quoted Pistorius as saying. "'Take the
blame because this can be big.'"
When the restaurant owners came up to investigate, Fresco
told them the gun had fallen out of the pocket of his
"I said to him 'What's the first rule of owning a gun? Safety
first?'" Maria Loupis said. "He said 'Yes' and I hit him over
Pistorius paid the bill and the group left, she added.
At the Pretoria High Court, Pistorius' defence team wound up
its cross-examination of a third prosecution witness who said
he had heard shouts and screams from Pistorius' house before
shots were fired on the night Steenkamp died.
Earlier, lead defence advocate Barry Roux tried to undermine
the testimony of wife and husband Michelle Burger and Charl
Johnson, who lived 177 metres away in an adjacent housing
complex, as being too similar to be credible.
"You could just as well have stood together in the witness
box," he said, earning his second rebuke of the three-day-old
trial from Judge Thokozile Masipa.
Besides denying murder, Pistorius, who had his disabled lower
legs amputated as a baby and now runs on carbon fibre
prosthetic "blades", has pleaded not guilty to the Tashas gun
He is also accused of putting a bullet through the sun roof
of a former girlfriend's car in a separate incident.
The trial is being broadcast daily on live television, a
first for South Africa, although most witnesses have asked
for their faces not to be shown to protect their identity.
Johnson, the neighbour, said on Wednesday he had received
"intimidating" phone calls the previous night from people who
had heard his phone number read out in court during his
wife's earlier cross-examination.