Nel: Pistorius can't escape conviction

The state concluded presenting its heads of argument in the Pretoria High Court today.

Oscar Pistorius leaves the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on 7 August 2014. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

PRETORIA - The state has argued that even if the court accepts Oscar Pistorius's version of an intruder in his house, he should still be found guilty of murdering Reeva Steenkamp.

The state concluded presenting its heads of argument in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria today.

The Paralympic and Olympic athlete is accused of murdering his girlfriend at his Pretoria East home on Valentine's Day last year.

The double amputee says he shot his Steenkamp by accident after mistaking her for an intruder while the state maintains it was premeditated murder.

Pistorius also faces three separate charges, including two counts of discharging firearms in public and possession of illegal ammunition, all of which he denies.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued that when Pistorius armed himself and stormed towards what he believed was an intruder, he had every intention to kill.

He said whether it turned out to be Steenkamp he shot, it is irrelevant to the question of intent.

Nel said Pistorius failed to prove there was any reasonable event to cause the perception that an attack was imminent.

He maintained that Pistorius's intention was to shoot and kill and said he cannot escape conviction of murder.


Nel said the athlete's version of events should be completely dismissed.

He said the athlete gave two versions as to why he opened fire, first because he heard movements in the cubicle, and then because he thought the bathroom door was about to open.

Nel said initially, Pistorius never said it was an accident.

Hresaid there are far too many inconsistencies in Pistorius' version and if the court accepts that Steenkamp ate two hours before she was killed, then his version is deemed untrue.

Dealing with the issue of the two noises heard that morning, Nel said neighbours heard screams before the second bangs which he says were the gunshots but none before the first noises.


Nel, known as 'The Pitbull' because of his fierce cross-examination style and penchant for the dramatic, said Pistorius was caught up in a "snowball of lies".

He also told the court Pistorius was an appalling witness.

"The argument was vague, his responses argumentative and that his mendacity was perhaps best exemplified with his evidence that, although he recalls a detail of his encounter with a Mercedes on the highway, he cannot recall who fetched him from Rhapsody's."

Referring to the placement of the fans and electrical cords on the night in question, Nel said it is not good enough that Pistorius claimed to lack memory of the exact details.

He also attacked Pistorius's assertion that the point wasn't significant, saying this indicates that he reconstructed his own memory.

The advocate said Pistorius was more concerned with the repercussions of his answers than with giving the court a truthful account.


Defence advocate Barry Roux accused the state of purposefully ignoring significant facts to incriminate Pistorius.

Roux started his closing argument this afternoon.

He said the state has been unable to reconcile the two sets of sound heard on the morning of the shooting.

He said the first sounds were the gunshots that killed Steenkamp and the second, the bat hitting the door.

Roux said Nel made no attempt to explain these because if he did, it would damage his case.

Nel asked the court to consider that the neighbours heard no screams before the first noises but did hear screams before the second noises.

He argued that in the absence of evidence to prove that Pistorius screams like a woman, it must've been Steenkamp screaming.

The killing has shattered the image of Pistorius as an embodiment of triumph over adversity for both his Paralympic victories and his success against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics.

The athlete broke down frequently during the trial, often sobbing and vomiting into a bucket.

The closing arguments are expected to last two days. The defence will continue with its closing argument tomorrow and after that, Judge Thokozile Masipa, who has more than 4,000 pages of evidence to review, will retire to consider her verdict.

Clockwise from top right: June Steenkamp; Lois and Arnold Pistorius; Gerrie Nel; Barry Roux; Amy and Carl Pistorius. Pictures: Pool.

To see the heads of argument click here.

For more on the trial, click here, or visit the live Oscar Pistorius blog, click here.