'Oscar Pistorius introduced Steenkamp as fiancee'

May 06 2014, 23:11 IST
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SummaryOscar Pistorius introduced Reeva Steenkamp as his fiancee just a week before he shot her, a close neighbour of the runner testified in his defence today

Oscar Pistorius introduced Reeva Steenkamp as his fiancee just a week before he shot her, a close neighbour of the runner testified in his defence today.

Michael Nhlengethwa, who describes himself as Pistorius's "closest neighbour," said the Paralympic gold medallist introduced the 29-year-old model to him shortly before her death early Valentine's Day morning 2013.

Pistorius said "please meet my fiancee, Reeva," Nhlengethwa said.

The athlete nicknamed the "Blade Runner" claims he and his girlfriend of three months were in a loving relationship and that he shot her accidentally after mistaking her for a intruder.

He faces up to 25 years in prison if found guilty of premeditated murder.

On the night of the shooting, Nhlengethwa said he woke up to the sound of a man crying.

"A man was crying very loud," he said, "it was crying when you were in danger, when you need help."

Defence lawyer Barry Roux asked the witness -- who was wearing a black suit with a sky blue tie -- if the voice was low- or high-pitched.

"You said a man's voice, was it a low pitch?" asked Roux. "It was a very high pitch voice," replied Nhlengethwa.

The defence claims that Steenkamp never screamed the night she was shot four times, alleging it was Pistorius screaming "like a woman" under the effect of stress.

The sprinter fired four bullets through a lavatory door, killing Steenkamp who was in the cubicle inside his house in an upmarket housing complex in the capital Pretoria.

Prosecutors have argued that the Valentine's Day shooting came after a row between the couple.

In his cross-examination, state prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Nhlengethwa if he heard bangs or screaming on the night of the shooting.

"I did not really hear anything in terms of the gunshots or anything like that," the witness replied.

Earlier, in emotional testimony Nhlengethwa described going to Pistorius's house to investigate the crying and saw Steenkamp being taken out of the house on a stretcher.

"At that moment I knew she was no more," said Nhlengethwa.

Pistorius, who has wretched and sobbed in court, kept his head in his hands as he listened to his neighbour's testimony.

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