The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius has wrapped up with
the prosecution making a final plea for the South African
athlete to "face the consequences" of shooting dead his
girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Judge Thokozile Masipa, only the second black woman to be
appointed a high court judge in post-apartheid South Africa,
will now analyse more than 4,000 pages of evidence before
delivering her verdict on September 11.
Double amputee Pistorius, 27, once a national icon for
reaching the pinnacle of sport, is accused of murdering
Steenkamp, a law graduate and model, at his home in Pretoria
on Valentine's Day last year.
The defence says Pistorius, nicknamed the 'Blade Runner'
after his carbon-fibre prosthetic running legs, shot
Steenkamp through a locked toilet door in self-defence,
believing she was an intruder, and that therefore he should
State prosecutor Gerrie Nel has spent the trial, which began
in March, portraying Pistorius as a gun-obsessed hothead who
deliberately shot Steenkamp, 29, four times as she was taking
refuge in the toilet after an argument.
Cutting through months of complex evidence and testimony, Nel
ended proceedings by returning to his core argument.
"He knew there was a human being in the toilet. That's his
evidence," Nel told the judge.
"His intention was to kill a human being. He's fired
indiscriminately into that toilet. Then m'lady, he is guilty
of murder. There must be consequences."
Defence lawyer Barry Roux said during his own wrapping-up
that psychological evidence had proven the track star had a
heightened fight response because of his disability and was
in a terrified and vulnerable state when he shot Steenkamp.
"You're standing at that door. You're vulnerable. You're
anxious. You're trained as an athlete to react. Take all
those factors into account," Roux said, adding that Pistorius
had felt exposed because he was standing on the stumps of his
"He stands with his finger on the trigger, ready to fire when
ready. In some instances a person will fire reflexively," he
added. "That is your primal instinct."
Roux also argued that prosecutors had only called witnesses
who supported their argument and not other key people,
including police officers, who he said would have undermined
On Thursday Nel said Pistorius had told "a snowball of lies"
and had called for the track star to be convicted of
intentional murder, a crime that could land him with a life
A potential lesser charge of culpable homicide - comparable
to manslaughter - could carry a sentence of about 15 years.
Pistorius also faces three separate charges, including two
counts of discharging firearms in public and possession of
illegal ammunition, all of which he denies.
To arrive at a verdict, Masipa and her two assistants will
have to weigh up the credibility of testimony on both sides,
including that of Pistorius, who endured more than a week of
torrid cross-examination during which he broke down
In the absence of a jury, experts say the crux of the case is
whether Masipa accepts or rejects his version of events.
"DEVOID OF ANY TRUTH"
Nel has called for Pistorius' evidence thrown out because it
was "devoid of any truth" and the athlete contradicted
himself when he said during cross-examination that he fired
both accidentally and deliberately.
Roux said the trial should only ever have been on the charge
of culpable homicide, rather than murder, because he said
Pistorius had clearly shot Steenkamp by mistake.
Nel and Roux have focused much of their closing arguments on
evidence from witnesses who say they heard a woman scream
before a volley of shots, supporting the prosecution's
position that the couple had an argument before Steenkamp was
Roux went through the early morning of the shooting
minute-by-minute during his wrapping-up, arguing that the
witnesses were confused and contradictory about the sounds
He also spent time analysing photos he said proved the police
had moved items in the couple's bedroom, countering a key
claim by Nel that images of the room proved that Pistorius'
version of the events was impossible.
The courtroom duelling between Nel and Roux, both dynamic
advocates with contrasting styles, has added to the drama in
a trial that has captivated audiences around the world.
Nel, known as 'The Pitbull' because of his fierce
cross-examination style and penchant for the dramatic, has
been the perfect foil to Roux, whose meticulous eye for
detail has put the squeeze on even the most composed
The fathers of both Pistorius and Steenkamp were in court for
the first time this week. The track star's aunt embraced
Steenkamp's father before the trial resumed on Friday.