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Pistorius apologises to Steenkamp's family

A tearful Pistorius has taken the stand to give his account of what happened on 14 February 2013.

Oscar Pistorius shows signs of fatigue during his murder trial at the high court in Pretoria on 24 March 2014. Picture: Pool.

PRETORIA - Murder accused Oscar Pistorius has taken the stand and begun his testimony with an apology to Reeva Steenkamp's family for what happened the night he shot and killed her.

While crying on the stand, Pistorius addressed the Steenkamps and said, "There hasn't been a moment I've not thought about your family."

He added, "When Reeva went to bed that night she was loved. I just wanted to protect her."

He said he is currently on medication and has trouble sleeping.

"I'm too scared to sleep, I have nightmares. I wake up at night smelling blood, I feel terrified."

Roux went through Pistorius's biography such as when he was born, how many siblings he has, his schooling and his disability.

The athlete told the court he was never really good at sports at school, but tried most things. "My mother wanted me to get over my disabilities by trying sports."

Pistorius said his mother was often concerned about security, especially as his father was not around. She kept a pistol and often called the kids to sit with her in her room.

He said she kept the firearm under her pillow in a padded leather bag

Roux asked how it happened that Pistorius ended up boarding at Pretoria Boys High and he responded that he specifically wanted to go to boarding school.

"I didn't socialise with any particular group, but I had a mixed group of friends who were good at sport and academics."

He said he played rugby, but suffered a knee injury.

In about 2004 he started athletics training.

DEATH OF HIS MOTHER

Roux asked what affect the passing of his mother had on him.

He responded by saying everything he learnt in life was from his mother whose death was sudden.

"It was unexpected. My brother and I didn't even know she was sick. By the time we were told she was already in a coma."

He said after his mother died, he and his brother Carl stayed with friends and family over the weekends.

ATHLETICS AND STUMPS

Pistorius said he chose to go professional when it became difficult to manage academic and sport responsibilities.

"At the time there wasn't much money in Paralympic sport, it was a struggle."

In 2007, he said he had an opportunity to race abroad, and started competing in professional able-bodied races.

He also dealt with the controversy related to his blades - that he had an unfair advantage.

The delay caused by the controversy meant that he missed the Beijing Games.

"The skin on my stumps would sometimes come off when I trained too much."

He also dealt with difficulties experienced with his disability like medical problems related to fatigue.

Pistorius also testified that he had no balance when he was standing on his stumps.

He said that he could not stand still.

When they amputated his legs, they placed heel pads on his stumps.

But he said the heel pad on the left stump was shifting, resulting in him struggling to place weight on it.

The athlete said he worked to change people's perceptions about disabilities.

He also told the court he received an honorary doctorate from a Scottish university for his humanitarian work and work on prosthetics.

BOAT ACCIDENT

During his testimony, Pistorius also touched on his 2009 boating accident.

The athlete said he was piloting the vessel when it hit something, before his face smashed into the steering wheel of the boat.

The vessel eventually sank.

Pistorius remembers swimming and feeling hot and cold as a result of blood and water mixing.

He was in an induced coma for several days.

The _Beeld _newspaper at the time reported that Vanderbijlpark police were investigating a case of reckless and negligent driving.

Pistorius said despite claims he was drinking at the time of the crash, he wasn't.

His testimony is being held in camera.

Get all the latest developments on the EWN Oscar Pistorius portal.