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“Shall I repeat my question? It can’t be that difficult,” Roux said at one point, implying that the witness was evasive.

On another occasion, Burger said: “I didn’t sit there with a stopwatch and take down the timing of each shot.”

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and three other counts relating to shooting guns in public in unrelated incidents and illegal possession of ammunition.

Defense lawyer Kenny Oldwadge read a statement from Pistorius in which he said the killing was an accident and that there were inconsistencies in the state’s case.

Pistorius said he brought two fans in from the balcony during the night after speaking to his girlfriend in bed beside him. He said Steenkamp must have gone into the bathroom while he was getting the fans. Pistorius said he did not notice that she had gone, then heard the bathroom window open.

“I approached the bathroom, armed with my firearm, so as to defend Reeva and I,” Pistorius said in the statement. He said he then heard a noise in the toilet cubicle and was in a “fearful state” because he was unable to run away or defend himself physically since he was not wearing his prosthetic legs. He said he shouted at what he thought was an intruder and then shot through the toilet door, only later realizing that he shot Steenkamp.

South Africa has a high crime rate and many people worry about daily security, but the prosecution case is likely to focus partly on Pistorius‘ alleged character flaws and the suggestion that he was a hotheaded gun enthusiast.

If convicted on the murder charge, Pistorius could be sent to prison for at least 25 years before the chance of parole, the minimum time someone must serve if given a life sentence in South Africa. There is no death penalty. Analysts say he could be vulnerable to a lesser homicide charge.

Judge Thokozile Masipa will ultimately deliver the verdict and decide on any sentence. South Africa has no trial by jury. Masipa has 15 years’ experience as a judge, and was a reporter with a South African newspaper before she turned to law.

As Pistorius left the courthouse, people erupted in whoops and a few boos.


Gerald Imray is on Twitter at