Ammunition used by Pistorius under scrutiny

Day 6 of the trial heard graphic evidence on the wounds sustained by Reeva Steenkamp.

Oscar Pistorius leaving the High Court in Pretoria on 10 March 2014. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

PRETORIA - Day six of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial heard graphic evidence of the wounds sustained by Reeva Steenkamp and testimony about the type of ammunition used when the model was shot and killed.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard damning evidence from Pathologist Professor Gert Saayman who testified Steenkamp had her last meal just two hours before she was shot dead, contradicting the athlete's version of events.

Oscar Pistorius leaving the High Court in Pretoria on 10 March 2014. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

Pistorius is accused of murdering his 29-year-old girlfriend at his upmarket Pretoria East home on 14 February last year.

Reeva Steenkamp. Picture: Carte Blanche.

The 27-year-old also faces gun-related charges.

The contents of Steenkamp's stomach may prove to be a vital blow in proving that Pistorius's timeline of the events are not true.

Saayman told the court a small amount of food, which he believes to be partially digested vegetables, were found in the model's stomach.

He said different types of food take different times to pass through the stomach, with protein taking the longest to digest.

The doctor said Steenkamp ingested the food no more than two hours before her death.

Pistorius claims he and his girlfriend went to bed at about 10pm the previous evening.

He shot her shortly after 3am.

The pathologist's evidence suggests Steenkamp had something to eat at around 1am, the time Pistorius says the couple were asleep.

Saayman also described numerous other wounds to her body as a result of being shot through a wooden door.

He said Steenkamp sustained gunshot wounds to the head, hip and arm.

Pistorius fired four shots at his girlfriend.

Saayman also found small skin-deep wounds on her right forearm and under her right breast.

He said these were caused by splinters and other pieces of shrapnel picked up as the bullets passed through the wooden door.

Even the shape of the bullet wounds was in line with those one would expect of a bullet first being deformed by travelling through an object before hitting the target.

It has also emerged that the so-called Black Talon ammunition used by Pistorius is designed to break up on contact and cause maximum tissue damage.

He said the trauma to Steenkamp's head was so severe it was instantaneously incapacitating.

Saayman said the model may have taken only a few breaths after sustaining the wound and died soon thereafter.

The aftermath of the shooting. Picture: Sky News.

Last week, witness Johan Stipp confirmed to the court it would have been impossible for Steenkamp to scream given the severity of her head wounds.

Pistorius broke down in court, retching and vomiting, after hearing the graphic testimony about Steenkamp's post-mortem.

A Johannesburg-based psychologist says Pistorius's reaction could possibly be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Defence Advocate Barry Roux will have the opportunity to cross-examine Saayman on Tuesday.


Shortly before Saayman took to the stand, Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled in favour of an application for all live broadcasts, including the use of Twitter, to be switched off for the duration of Saayman's testimony due to the graphic nature of the post-mortem evidence.

Click here to listen to the application, all submissions and ruling.

A number of people took to social media to criticise Masipa's decision.

Lawyer Emma Sadleir said while Masipa's ruling was fascinating, the entire issue still needed urgent clarity.

She confirmed this was the second time a South African court has banned live tweeting.

The first case where a ban on social media was enforced was the so-called Modimolle Monster case during rape victim Ian Bonnette's testimony.

She warned that special rules for particular cases could have wider implications.

Veteran journalist Max du Preez described the ruling as a "bad one".

He asked how delaying the information made any kind of difference.

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos asked whether special rules were being applied because Pistorius was "famous and rich".


The cross-examination of security guard Pieter Baba wrapped up today.

A screenshot of Silver Woods Estate security guard Pieter Baba (L) testifying during the Oscar Pistorius murder trial.

Baba told the court that he called Pistorius in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year after neighbours reported gunshots.

He said the athlete claimed that "everything was fine".

An overhead view of Silver Woods Country Estate in Pretoria. Picture: Carte Blanche.

Roux presented two sets of call records, which show Pistorius first called security followed by security calling him back.

The records are from security's cellphone as well as Pistorius's cellphone.

During the first nine second-long call from Pistorius to security, he couldn't speak because he was crying.

About 50 seconds later, security called the athlete back.

Despite this evidence, Baba persisted with his testimony that he called first.

Roux put it to Baba that it would make sense that if the athlete called him and was crying on the phone that he would call back to enquire if everything was in order.

View the live blog and listen to live audio streaming from the trial.