Pistorius trial: Screams, mobility & mental health

The Olympic and Paralympic athlete’s murder trial resumed in the North Gauteng High Court.

Oscar Pistorius arrives for his first day back in court since he underwent 30 days of psychological evaluation at the Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital on 30 June 2014. Pictures: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

PRETORIA - The Oscar Pistorius murder trial on Monday resumed after a six-week delay, with testimony about the athlete's mental state on the night he shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp.

The Olympic and Paralympic athlete's lack of mobility on his stumps and his alleged screams on the night in question also came under the spotlight.

The 27-year-old is on trial in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

A picture of the late Reeva Steenkamp as seen on the accreditation card of a family member attending the murder trial of star sprinter, Oscar Pistorius, at the High Court in Pretoria on 30 June 2014. Picture: Pool.

Monday's proceedings started with a report compiled during Pistorius's month-long psychiatric observation.

He was ordered to report to the Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital for observation after a witness testified he suffered from Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

State advocate Gerrie Nel summarised some of the report's main points.

"Mr Pistorius didn't suffer from mental illness at the time of the offence that would have rendered him criminally not responsible for the act. He was capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act."


The athlete's vulnerability then came under the spotlight after his orthopaedic surgeon testified that he was highly immobile on his stumps.

Dr Gerald Versfeld is the surgeon who amputated the 'Blade Runner's' lower limbs as a child.

He went into great detail about Pistorius's struggle to balance.

The expert told the court that problems with Pistorius's stumps, particularly the left one, made it difficult for him to walk and balance without holding onto something.

Picture: Pool.

Nel said it was unfair to say he'd be vulnerable in a "dangerous" situation.

"So you feel qualified as an orthopaedic surgeon to link his vulnerability to a dangerous situation. I say you can't do that."

Versfeld added Pistorius would have to have a weapon to ward off danger if he was on his stumps because of his limited ability to flee the scene.


An acoustics engineer testifying for the defence cast doubt on evidence by neighbours.

Earlier in the case, a witness from the luxury Silver Woods Country Estate and a surrounding complex told the court they heard screaming on the night Steenkamp was killed.

Ivan Lin provided significant technical detail on how the sounds of a person screaming would have travelled through doors and windows, and the degree to which a person could hear the sounds at specific distances.

He constructed scenarios at 80-metres and 177-metres from the source to simulate the two locations where the screaming was heard.

Lin said at the closer distance, the sound would have been audible and intelligible.

This would have changed significantly at 177m, the engineer found.

The expert found that a person could distinguish the difference between a typical male and female scream, but this was not always the case.

Also earlier in the case, defence lawyers argued when Pistorius screamed he sounded like a woman, especially when anxious.