Pistorius trial: Second witness testifies

Pistorius's neighbour Estelle van der Merwe has been called to give testimony.

Oscar Pistorius on the second day of his murder trial on 4 March 2014 at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Picture: Pool.

PRETORIA - Oscar Pistorius's neighbour, who claims to have never met the athlete, has now been called as the next witness in the murder trial.

Estelle van der Merwe, who lives in Silver Woods Country Estate diagonally across Pistorius, will be examined by prosecutor Gerrie Nel, cross-examined by the defence team and if need be, re-examined by Nel.

Senior state prosecutor Gerrie Nel

Van der Merwe is also using an Afrikaans translator, as previous witness Michelle Burger did during the first part of her testimony.

Like Burger, van der Merwe has asked not to be filmed as per the broadcast ruling.

She was asked by the court to relax and take her time as she was visibly uncomfortable.

Van der Merwe testified she woke up at around 1.56am on Valentine's Day and could hear people talking in loud voices, which sounded like fighting.

It lasted for about an hour. She says she couldn't hear what was being said, or what language was being spoken.

Defence advocate Barry Roux interjected to complain that the interpreter translated what van der Merwe said into 'gunshots' when she actually meant something else, which can't be easily translated.

Defence advocate Barry Roux.

Nel agreed and tried to find out what she heard.

She said she was quite irritated by the noise, tried to fall asleep again and then woke up once more, and tried to see what was happening.

She said couldn't see anything and went back to bed.

At around 3am in the morning, she heard four loud sounds.

"I heard four sounds, but I do not know how to describe them. It sounded like, bang, bang, that's the best I can do."

Nel said he was pleased, and moved onto asking what the sequence of the shots was like.


Previous witness, University of Pretoria lecturer and a neighbour from the adjacent Silver Stream Estate complex, Michelle Burger was heavily cross-examined by the defence team's Barry Roux.

She eventually broke down and cried as she was re-examined by Nel, who asked about her emotional state while her statement was being taken after the shooting.

Judge Thokozile Masipa then excused Burger and thanked her for her assistance.

During the last part of his cross-examination, Roux tried showing that Burger shouldn't be so sure she heard gunshots as opposed to a cricket bat bashing on a door.

Roux told Burger that she was not willing to even make an obvious concession.

Nel objected and accused Roux of badgering the witness.

Judge Masipa then suggested that Roux had exhausted this line of questioning.

Roux asked Burger about her previous experience with shooting.

She claimed the previous times she had heard gunshots, including at a shooting range, were why she knew that she heard gunshots on 14 February 2013, the day of the fatal shooting.

But Roux argued that she was not that familiar with guns and, at the range, she admitted she had used ear protection.

Roux then ended his cross-examination before allowing Nel the floor for re-examination.

Pistorius speaks to his defence team on Tuesday 4 March 2014.


Local businesses are cashing in on the large media contingent and passers-by at the court.

A pop-up restaurant is selling hundreds of cups of coffee and meals everyday and has become the go-to spot for those following the trial.

The sound of cappuccinos, lattes and filter coffees being made is only drowned out by the live feed of the trial at a restaurant.

The well-known restaurant is selling coffee from R14 and breakfast for R30 from a red container fitted with a tent to shelter people from the rain.

A journalist from Cape Town said the outlet had made it easier to cover the trial.

"I love it because when I came here the first morning and saw the restaurant I thought, yay, thank you."

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Picture in this story courtesy of Pool and EWN reporters.