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Saturday 20 September 2014

Security guard denies Pistorius called first to seek help

Published 10/03/2014 | 09:31

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Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius puts his hands over his head, in the dock during his trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, March 10, 2014. Pistorius is on trial for murdering Steenkamp at his suburban Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year. He says he mistook her for an intruder.        REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: CRIME LAW SPORT ENTERTAINMENT ATHLETICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius puts his hands over his head, in the dock during his trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius reacts in the dock during his trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, March 10, 2014. Pistorius is on trial for murdering Steenkamp at his suburban Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year. He says he mistook her for an intruder.        REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: CRIME LAW SPORT ATHLETICS)
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius reacts in the dock during his trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria

A security guard who said he spoke with Oscar Pistorius soon after the fatal shooting of Reeva Steenkamp was questioned by the amputee athlete's defence today about his recollection of events that night.

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The sequence is important for the defence because, if it can prove that Pistorius called security first, it could support the contention that he was seeking help as quickly as possible.

The guard, Pieter Baba, had recalled a conversation with Pistorius, who killed Ms Steenkamp in his home in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year.

On Friday, Mr Baba told the High Court in Pretoria that he had called Pistorius and was told "everything is fine" on the telephone. He said Pistorius then called him back moments later, did not speak and was crying, and the second call then ended.

Mr Baba said he was responding to neighbours' reports of gunshots coming from Pistorius's home after 3am on February 14 2013.

He drove with a fellow guard to Pistorius's villa and made the call from outside the house.

Mr Baba's statement that he called Pistorius first could back the prosecution's case that the killing was premeditated, and that Pistorius was trying, at least initially, to conceal what he had done.

Today, however, Barry Roux, Pistorius's defence lawyer, said call records showed Pistorius called security first, but could not speak because he was "indeed crying".

"I'm the one who called him first," Mr Baba insisted.

"His call was first and your call was second," countered Mr Roux, saying he had documents, including one from the police, which showed his assertion to be true.

"I put proof in front of you that Mr Pistorius called first," Mr Roux said, referring to the call records from the night.

Mr Roux said Pistorius had called before the guards went to his house.

"If Mr Pistorius called me first, then I would have known that something was wrong at his house," Mr Baba replied, repeating his version.

Mr Roux also asked the guard if Pistorius had not said "I am OK" or "I am fine" and not "everything is fine".

Mr Baba has denied that.

Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder over Ms Steenkamp's death.

The 27-year-old Olympian says the killing was accidental because he thought his girlfriend was a dangerous intruder in a toilet cubicle in his home.

Later the hearing was adjourned after the chief prosecutor asked the judge to bar broadcasting of what he says will be the graphic evidence of the expert who carried out the post-mortem examination on Ms Steenkamp.

The judge must decide whether or not to allow audio and video broadcasting of the evidence of Professor Gert Saayman, head of the forensic medicine department at the University of Pretoria.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel says Prof Saayman's evidence has an "explicitly graphic nature" and that it should not be shown around the world.

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