Day 1: Inside the Oscar Pistorius trial

All the trial proceedings, notable quotes on one page

'OSCAR APPEARED TO BE ON SOME KIND OF MEDICATION': JOURNO - Sapa

A foreign journalist filing his report after the first day of Oscar Pistorius's murder trial made his sister Aimee frown in the High Court in Pretoria.

The reporter, speaking the Queen's English into his cellphone moments after Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned proceedings for the day, said the paralympic athlete "looked like an unconcerned spectator" and "appeared to be on some kind of medication".

Aimee and Carl Pistorius were standing in the front row of the public gallery in court GD, with the portly journalist four benches behind them.

They were looking in his direction and frowned and turned away when they heard him.

Pistorius's trial for the murder of his girlfriend, model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp, continues on Tuesday at 9.30am.

OSCAR 'SCREAMS LIKE A WOMAN' - Sapa

Oscar Pistorius screams like a woman when he is anxious, the High Court in Pretoria was told during his murder trial on Monday.

"You know ...if Mr Pistorius is very anxious if he screams it sounds like a woman's voice," said Pistorius's counsel Barry Roux, SC.

He was cross-examining witness Michelle Burger who said she heard the screams the night he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The court giggled slightly at Roux's submission, which came during a lengthy period of cross-examining Burger -- who has testified that she heard a woman's screams on that night, and a man's screams, then a woman's scream, then nothing.

Roux said witnesses could testify to this trait of Pistorius.

"He was screaming higher and lower and that is why you would hear what you, at that time of the morning, would associate with a man screaming and a woman screaming," said Roux.

He said one thing the court had heard from Burger's testimony was that all the screams she heard were not at the same time.

The State will try to prove that he committed pre-meditated murder.

Earlier, his defence denied the State's contention that Pistorius and Steenkamp had argued before her death around 3am on Valentine's Day.

Roux said: "All I'm saying when he's anxious his voice pitches and it sounds like a woman screaming."

Burger insisted she heard a woman scream.

PISTORIUS HANDS NOTE TO LEGAL TEAM - Sapa

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius was seen taking down notes on the first day of his murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

Around 3pm, he handed a note to his legal team while the testimony of the first witness Michelle Burger continued into the afternoon.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including the possession of ammunition without a licence.

The 27-year-old is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home last year.

INTERPRETING QUESTIONED IN OSCAR TRIAL - Sapa

The interpreting from Afrikaans to English was questioned in Oscar Pistorius's murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

Pistorius's counsel Barry Roux, SC, had just heard witness Michelle Burger testify that the night after the shooting she was "deurmekaar" --which the interpreter translated as confused.

As Roux rounded in on the word "confused", as part of a line of questioning on how many shots had been fired the night Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead, the judge interrupted.

"Is there a difficulty between you and the interpreter," asked Judge Thokozile Masipa.

Burger hesitated then said: "She is interpreting what I am saying. Some of the words are not what I am saying and then I am correcting in English."

She said she was willing to speak English and then change to Afrikaans.

Her mother tongue is Afrikaans and she prefers Afrikaans but if it was easier for the court, then she would speak English, she said.

Masipa said she should make up her mind and she settled for Afrikaans.

ONLY FOUR SHOTS HEARD, WITNESS SAYS - Sapa

A witness who heard the gunshots that killed Reeva Steenkamp told the High Court in Pretoria on Monday there could not have been shots fired while she was asleep.

Barry Roux, for murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius, asked Michelle Burger if there could have been more shots fired while she was sleeping.

"No it's not possible. I woke up from the screams of a woman. I made a phone call [to security guards], then I heard the petrified screams of a woman and the shots," she said.

Roux and Burger seemed at times to get frustrated as each felt the other was not understanding them.

"What was my question? Because I think there is some misunderstanding," Roux asked her.

Pistorius is accused of the premeditated murder of Steenkamp, of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, and recklessly discharging a firearm in public.

His lawyers will argue that he mistook her for an intruder when he shot her through the toilet door of his home in the Silverwoods Country Estate around 3am on February 14 last year.

HUSBAND MAY HAVE HEARD MORE SHOTS - Sapa

A witness who testified that she heard four shots on the night Reeva Steenkamp was killed said her husband claimed to have possibly heard more shots, the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

"I discussed the screams and shots with my husband... He said he wasn't sure whether it was four, five or six shots," said Michelle Burger.

Burger lives in Silver Stream Estate, next to Silverwoods Country Estate, the complex where paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Steenkamp.

She was under cross-examination by Pistorius's lawyer, Kenny Oldwadge.

He questioned why her version possibly differed from her husband.

"My husband's testimony is his own," said Burger.

Burger earlier told the court that she heard the petrified screams of a woman who was calling for help, followed by the gunshots.

She said she initially thought the woman was screaming for help as there was a house breaking.

Pistorius watched and listened attentively as Burger testified. He occasionally looked down where it seemed like he was writing something.

WITNESS GRILLED - Sapa

A witness was grilled on Monday on whether she thought paralympian Oscar Pistorius lied at his bail hearing when he was charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Barry Roux, SC, for Steenkamp, began cross-examining Michelle Burger by asking her if she believed "Oscar Pistorius lied".

"As you stand there, as you testify in chief, you do it from the perspective that Oscar Pistorius lied in the bail application and his defence is a lie?"

She replied: "I could not understand how I could clearly hear a woman scream but Mr Pistorius could not hear that."

Pistorius said he thought an intruder was in the house when he fired four shots through the door of the toilet at his home and killed Steenkamp who was inside. He was horrified to find that Steenkamp was inside.

She died on the scene.

Roux asked: "Do you believe the man?"

Burger said there were four screams, that a man screamed help three times.

She said Roux should ask another question if her answer was not clear enough.

He said she either did or did not think he lied at his bail application.

She said if he said he did not hear a woman scream, then he had to explain that to the court.

Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Burger lives in Silverstreams, which is next door to Pistorius's home Silverwoods. Her and her husband were woken by a woman's screams, a man's screams, then four shots.

WITNESS RECALLS SHOUTS - Sapa

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius's murder trial began in dramatic fashion on Monday with the testimony of a neighbour who heard a woman's "blood-curdling" screams coming from his house the night he shot Reeva Steenkamp.

A year after the shooting, a sombre Pistorius stood in the dock in the high court in Pretoria to answer to prosecutor Gerrie Nel's charge of premeditated murder.

As expected, the Olympic gold medalist denied guilt and insisted that he had mistakenly believed he was firing at an intruder hiding in his Pretoria home when he shot and killed Steenkamp through a locked toilet door.

Asked by Judge Thokoliza Mapisa to plead, Pistorius softly responded: "Not guilty, My Lady" to the murder charge and several others relating to the fire arms act.

In a statement read out by his attorney, Kenny Oldwage, the athlete said there was "no basis whatsoever" for the State's contention that he had wanted to kill his glamorous girlfriend of three months.

He also vehemently denied Nel's contention that the couple had argued before the shooting on Valentine's Day last year.

But Nel immediately set out to prove that Pistorius was lying by calling Michelle Burger, an economics lecturer at the University of Pretoria, as the State's first witness.

Burger lives in the Silver Stream security estate, at a distance of 177 metres from Pistorius's home in the neighbouring Silver Woods complex.

Testifying in Afrikaans, she told the court she was woken up that night by the "blood-curdling screams" of a woman, followed by four gunshots.

Burgess said she and her husband woke up just after 3am when they heard the noise. Her husband rushed to the balcony.

"I was still sitting in the bed and I heard her screams," she told the court.

"She called for help. She screamed terribly and shouted for help. Then I heard a man also call for help. He called for help three times."

Burger said her husband called security guards and asked them to investigate.

"Then I heard her screams again," said Burger. "It was like a climax. I heard her anxiety. She was very scared."

Burger then heard shots, with a longer pause between the first and second shot than the rest.

"It was bang.....bang,bang,bang," she said.

Burger said she only learnt at work that Pistorius was arrested and then realised from aerial photographs shown in media footage just how close to him she lived.

The court adjourned for lunch after Burger left the stand.

Pistorius, who wore a black suit and tie, looked at his watch, got up and walked out alone, shaking hands with a few people along the way.

The case had started 90 minutes late as justice officials had to locate an interpreter to allow Burger to give testimony in Afrikaans.

While the opening arguments of the State and the defence were broadcast live on television, her face was not shown as she had requested to testify off camera.

It remains unclear whether Pistorius will take the stand in what has been dubbed the trial of the decade.

Oldwage on Monday read Pistorius's version of events to the court. In the statement, Pistorius insisted: "I approached the bathroom to defend Reeva and I," and objected to what he called the State's attempts at character assassination.

Nel told the court that since there were no eye witnesses, the State will rely on circumstantial and forensic evidence to convict Pistorius.

Burger could be followed by more than 100 other state witnesses as the seasoned prosecutor sets out to do so in the glare of intense media scrutiny.

More than 300 reporters have vied for space in the court room and an overflow court and a scrum of local and foreign photographers have set up watch outside the court.

BURGER FOUND OUT ABOUT MURDER LATER - Sapa

Witness Michelle Burger only found out later on February 14 last year that Reeva Steenkamp had been killed, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

"I only made a statement later on because I don't live in Silverwoods [Estate]," said Burger.

"We thought there would be people in Silverwoods that would testify because we are not in that estate."

Burger said that around 3am on February 14 she heard screams and thought a housebreaking had taken place.

"It was very traumatic for me... It leaves you chilled. You can't translate into words the anxiety in her voice," she said.

"I thought it was a housebreaking. We thought someone was attacked."

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including possession of ammunition without a licence.

'SCREAMS, THEN MORE SCREAMS': MICHELLE BURGER - Sapa

A neighbour heard a woman's "terrible screams" from Oscar Pistorius's house in the early hours of February 14 last year, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Thursday.

"She screamed terribly and called for help. Then I heard a man calling for help three times," Michelle Burger said during questioning by prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

The slender woman, dressed in black, spoke in Afrikaans and had her testimony translated into English. Her evidence was not televised.

Her house is in the Silver Stream estate, on the border of the Silver Woods estate, where Pistorius had his home.

After Burger's husband called security, she heard a woman scream again.

"The screams were more intense. It was like a climax," Burger said.

"The fear in her voice was horrific."

Then she heard four gunshots.

The State will try to prove that Pistorius committed premeditated murder when he shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp through a bathroom door in his Pretoria home on February 14 last year.

In addition he is charged with illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

His lawyers will argue that he mistook her for an intruder when he shot her.

SHOOTING WAS TRAUMATIC: MICHELLE BURGER - Sapa

The shooting of Reeva Steenkamp was traumatic for witness Michelle Burger, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

"It was very traumatic for me... You can't translate into words the anxiety in her voice," she said of the screams she heard.

"I thought it was a housebreaking. We thought someone was attacked."

She woke up around 3am when she heard the woman scream twice from the neighbouring Silver Woods Estate, where Pistorius resided.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including possession of ammunition without a licence.

'STATE'S CASE CIRCUMSTANTIAL: PROSECUTOR GERRIE NEL - Sapa

"There were only two people in the house, there were no eye witnesses," he told the court on Monday.

The State's case is based on circumstantial evidence, prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the High Court in Pretoria.

"There were only two people in the house, there were no eye witnesses," he told the court on Monday.

"The State's case is based on circumstantial evidence... and on what the neighbours heard...and lead ballistic and forensic evidence.'

He said the State would prove that Pistorius killed Steenkamp with direct intent.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including possession of ammunition without a licence.

FIRST WITNESS TAKES THE STAND - Sapa

The first witness took the stand in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday after midday.

A woman, Michelle Burger, who lives next door to the Silverwoods Estate, where paralympian Oscar Pistorius lived, said she heard screams on February 14 in the early morning hours.

"I heard a woman's terrible screams. I sat upright... and my husband also woke up from the screams. My husband jumped up and went to the balcony."

Burger heard a woman scream for help.

Burger's testimony was not televised.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including possession of ammunition without a licence.

CONTAMINATION TO BE DEALT WITH: COURT HEARS - Sapa

Contamination of the crime scene at murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius's Pretoria home would be dealt with, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel gave this undertaking as he handed in photographs as evidence. These included pictures from the post mortem, the crime scene and Tasha's restaurant.

A report of the weather conditions on February 14 last year, between 3am and 4am, was also handed in. This was the day Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead by Pistorius.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including possession of ammunition without a licence.

STATE'S CLAIM OF SHOOTING UNFAIR : PISTORIUS LAWYER - Sapa

"No evidence can be tendered that I fired the shots because of the argument," Kenny Oldwage, for Pistorius, said. He was reading from Pistorius's plea explanation.

The State's claim that Oscar Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp during an argument is "unfair and incorrect", the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

"No evidence can be tendered that I fired the shots because of the argument," Kenny Oldwage, for Pistorius, said. He was reading from Pistorius's plea explanation.

Apart from Oldwage's voice, the only other sound in court was the clicking of laptop keyboards among the media.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him, including the premeditated murder of Steenkamp.

The State will try to prove that Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp in his Pretoria home on February 14 last year, allegedly because of an argument.

His lawyers will argue that he mistook her for an intruder when he shot her through a closed toilet door.

STEENKAMP SHOT MULTIPLE TIMES

Reeva Steenkamp was shot multiple times on February 14 last year, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the body suffered no additional injuries.

Photographs taken during post mortem were handed in as evidence.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including the possession of ammunition without a licence.

PISTORIUS PLEADS NOT GUILTY

Oscar Pistorius pleaded not guilty to murder on Monday as his sensational trial got underway 90 minutes after officials tried to locate an Afrikaans interpreter at the last minute.

But the late start was also due to another bid by a woman who also disrupted the Paralympian's bail hearing to bring an application to the North Gauteng High Court.

The mysterious woman, who gave her name only as Anna-Marie and claimed she knew Pistorius's late mother, was led out of the building just before 11 am.

Court officials then explained they had also managed to resolve logistical problems related to translation services for the trial --reportedly because one of the witnesses wanted to testify in Afrikaans.

Proceedings in the Pretoria court finally began at 11.30 am, with prosecutor Gerrie Nel formally bringing a charge of premeditated murder.

Asked to plead, Pistorius, 27, responded: "Not guilty."

The prosecutor and a team of senior detectives will set out to prove in coming weeks that Pistorius deliberately shot and killed his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp while she cowered behind a locked toilet door in his home on Valentine's Day last year.

Nel proceeded to read further charges relating to contravention of the firearms act, some relating to a now infamous incident in a restaurant in Melrose Arch months before Steenkamp's death.

Asked by Judge Thokozile Masipa how he pleaded, Pistorius to each count responded: "Not guilty, my lady."

The athlete's attorney, Kenny Oldwage, then read Pistorius's version of events to the court.

As expected, he submitted that he had mistakenly believed there was an intruder in his house.

"Reeva must have gone to a toilet, [and] closed the sliding doors," Oldwage read to the court.

"I approached the bathroom to defend Reeva and I."

"There was "no basis whatsoever" for the State's contention that he had wanted to kill Steenkamp, Pistorius's statement continued.

It disputed the State's argument that there had been a row between the couple on the night of the shooting, and denied that Pistorius wore his prosthesis when he fired four shots into the locked door.

Pistorius, dressed in a black suit and tie, arrived at the red-brick court house in Pretoria early in the morning, carrying a pen and notebook and a small green pillow to sit on in the dock.

His family and Steenkamp's mother June -- who sat in the front seats of the court room, some distance from each other.

Also in court was police investigating officer Vineshkumar Moonoo --assinged to the case after a faltering start for the police last year --and detective Captain Mike van Aardt.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

More than 300 reporters have vied for space in the court room and a scrum of local and foreign photographers have set up watch outside the court.

PISTORIUS DENIES ARGUMENT WITH STEENKAMP - Sapa

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius denied arguing with his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 last year when she was shot dead, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

"I deny this," he said, according to a statement read out by Pistorius's attorney Kenny Oldwage.

He also argues that the crime scene was contaminated by police.

Pistorius said he woke up when he heard a noise from the bathroom on February 14.

"Reeva must have gone to a toilet, [and] closed the sliding doors..."

"I approached the bathroom to defend Reeva and I."

He thought it was an intruder.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including the possession of ammunition without a licence.

Penpix of personalities in Pistorius trial - Reuters

Following are penpix of some of the personalities in the murder trial of Paralympic and Olympic star Oscar Pistorius, which is due to start in Pretoria on Monday:

  • ARNOLD PISTORIUS

Pistorius' uncle Arnold has taken the role of family spokesman since the arrest of his nephew, who has been staying at Arnold's mansion in a wealthy Pretoria neighbourhood since his release on bail.

The track star is estranged from his father, Henke, who last year told a newspaper he and other family members owned a total of 55 guns because they could not count on the police to protect them from crime. Pistorius' mother died when he was 15.

  • JUNE STEENKAMP

Reeva Steenkamp's mother June will be at the start of the trial on March 3, although she will be without her horse-trainer husband, Barry, who is recovering from a stroke at the family's home in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth.

The family has been devastated by Reeva's death, with June telling a South African paper this month: "It is bad. Bad, bad, bad and nothing that is done will change that. Under the circumstances we are not okay. We are not all right. Nothing will make us alright."

  • THOKOZILE MASIPA

A former newspaper crime reporter who later became a lawyer, Masipa was only the second black woman to be appointed a high court judge in South Africa.

She has a track record of handing down stiff penalties in crimes against women and has given life terms to rapists.

She reduced one convicted rapist and robber to tears in court, handing him three life sentences for three rapes and an additional 27 years for charges of robbery and attempted murder.

  • BARRY ROUX

Lead defence attorney Barry Roux is regarded as one of South Africa's most skilled - and expensive - criminal lawyers, with a reputation for ruthless cross-examination and a flair for theatrics.

At last year's bail hearing, Roux dismantled Hilton Botha, the lead detective on the case, forcing him to concede that Pistorius' version of the events was plausible, while relentlessly accusing him of shoddy detective work.

Botha was later pulled off the case after it emerged he himself faced attempted murder charges.

  • GERRIE NEL

Lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel is a veteran lawyer known for his intense preparation and ability to take on the powerful and politically connected. His biggest scalp is former police chief and Interpol head Jackie Selebi, who was convicted of corruption in 2010.

At the bail hearing a year ago, Nel painstakingly crafted a picture of Pistorius as a cold-blooded killer who fired through a door at his cowering girlfriend. "She could go nowhere," he said. "It must have been horrific."

ANCWL SING OUTSIDE COURT - Sapa

The ANC Womens' League sang outside the High Court in Pretoria on Monday ahead of the murder trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

"Uyaya ejele...uyaya uOscar uyaya..." they sang.

The song says "Oscar is going to jail". The ANCWL were joined by men in civilian clothes.

The trial was delayed as the court waited for an Afrikaans interpreter.

Pistorius, 27, is charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day last year and contravening the Firearms Control Act.

He has said he thought she was an intruder when he shot her through a closed toilet door.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

ANNAMARIE ESCORTED OUT OF COURT - Sapa

Police and court orderlies were escorting a woman known as Annemarie out of High Court in Pretoria on Monday, after she apparently sought to bring an application to have murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius committed.

The woman has on previous occasions tried to bring a similar application without success.

The trial was delayed, apparently because the court was awaiting the arrival of an Afrikaans interpreter.

Several members of both legal teams were seen leaving the courtroom.

Pistorius, 27, is charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day last year and contravening the Firearms Control Act.

He has said he thought she was an intruder when he shot her through a closed toilet door.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

PISTORIUS HAS NOTEBOOK READY - Sapa

Murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius was ready to take down notes at the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

His black notebook was on his lap and he had a pen in hand.

A sketch artist was seen facing Pistorius with pencil and paper ready.

The 27-year-old double amputee was also seen passing a note to his family sitting behind him in courtroom GD.

Pistorius faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

Murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius was ready to take down notes at the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

His black notebook was on his lap and he had a pen in hand.

A sketch artist was seen facing Pistorius with pencil and paper ready.

The 27-year-old double amputee was also seen passing a note to his family sitting behind him in courtroom GD.

Pistorius faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

 

LAST-MINUTE TALKS IN COURT BEFORE TRIAL STARTS - Sapa

At least 13 lawyers had last-minute snatches of conversation ahead of the start of Oscar Pistorius's murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

With Pistorius leaning over the dock to speak to his own counsel Barry Roux, Roux's robed adversary prosecutor Gerrie Nel peered over his spectacles at the other side of the courtroom, waiting for Judge Thokozile Masipa to set proceedings in motion.

Pistorius is charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day last year and contravening the Firearms Control Act. He has said he thought she was an intruder when he shot her through a closed toilet door.

Steenkamp's mother June, behind him to his right, occasionally glanced over at him.

His own family filled the left of the front bench, also only speaking occasionally.

PISTORIUS ENTERS COURT ROOM - Sapa

Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius entered court GD at the High Court in Pretoria on Monday morning, to face a charge of the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

He was ushered into the court through a side entrance and took a cushion as he sat down in the dock. He was wearing a grey suit, took a sip of water and shrugged his shoulders.

He leaned forward and spoke to one of the members of his defence team sitting in front of him.

Pistorius is accused of the premeditated murder of Steenkamp.

His lawyers will argue that he mistook her for an intruder when he shot her through a bathroom door.

June Steenkamp, Reeva's mother, sitting on a court bench just looked at him briefly, showing no emotion.

Pistorius, wearing a grey suit and a white shirt, avoided looking at the public gallery and his brother Carl and sisteR Aimee were sitting.

Oscar Pistorius whispered something in the ear of his lawyer Barry Roux.

A police officer removed his cap and shook hands with the accused.

MEDIA NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK TO LEGAL TEAM - Sapa

Journalists were asked not to speak to the judge or the prosecution teams in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday ahead of the murder-trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

Lulama Luti, spokeswoman for the Office of the Chief Justice, told media not to speak to them and ordered reporters not to take pictures of the courtroom with cellphones or tablets.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Nathi Ncube, addressing media in the public gallery, said they would not discuss the merits of the case.

Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home last year. He faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva, glanced over at the Pistorius family when they walked into the courtroom.

The trial was due to begin at 10am.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

LEGAL TEAMS MEET OUTSIDE COURT - Sapa

The prosecution and the defence team in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial left the court room through the judge's entrance, apparently to hold a meeting prior to proceedings in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday morning.

The court room was filling up ahead of Pistorius's appearance.

He is accused of shooting dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at his Pretoria home on February 14, 2013. He has claimed he had mistaken her for an intruder.

Pistorius siblings Aimee and Carl sat in the same row as the Steenkamp family.

The Pistorius and Steenkamp families left a large gap between themselves on the bench.

Steenkamp's mother, June, and those who accompanied her were dressed in black. She sat quietly in the gallery, waiting for the proceedings to begin.

LAWYERS TALK AHEAD OF CASE -Sapa

The State's prosecutor Gerrie Nel and Steenkamp family lawyer Dup de Bruyn began talking inside courtroom GD ahead of paralympian Oscar Pistorius's murder trial on Monday morning.

Pistorius's lawyers Brian Webber and Barry Roux were seen chatting, while the double-amputee's brother Carl, wearing a blue suit, was led into the High Court in Pretoria by police.

Carl seemed uncomfortable as looked around the courtroom and whispered to his sister Aimee.

The Pistorius siblings have in the past court appearances shown a united front. During Pistorius's bail application over a year ago, they were seen praying together in the court before the proceedings began.

Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home last year. He faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva, glanced over at the Pistorius family when they walked into the courtroom. The trial was due to begin at 10am.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

STEENKAMP FAMILY IN COURT - Sapa

The murder-trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius was due to begin at 10am in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

Reeva Steenkamp's mother, June, and other family members began taking their seats in the first row of court room GD before 9am.

Steenkamp's lawyer Dup de Bruyn was also seen inside the court room, as was cellphone record expert, Captain Francois Moller.

De Bruyn was seated next to June Steenkamp who was dressed in black.

She told the Star she wanted to look Pistorius in the eye.

"I want to look at Oscar, really look him in the eyes, and see for myself the truth about what he did to Reeva," she was quoted as saying.

"And whatever the court decides at the end of his trial, I will be ready to forgive him."

Also in court was Pistorius's sister Aimee, his advocate Barry Roux, police investigating officer Vineshkumar Moonoo, and Captain Mike van Aardt who was expected to testify for the State.

Excited chatter rose from the journalists in the public gallery, where the benches were rapidly filling up by 9am.

Roux was already behind his podium, arranging a box of files. He will try to prove that Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp by mistake, after he thought she was an intruder.

Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering Steenkamp at his Pretoria home last year. He faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

STEENKAMP FAMILY ENTER COURT - Sapa

Reeva Steenkamp's mother June and other family members began entering courtroom GD in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday before 9am, ahead of Oscar Pistorius's murder trial.

Steenkamp's lawyer Dup de Bruyn was also inside the court room, as was cellphone records expert Captain Francois Moller.

A throng of journalists began entering the courtroom at 8.23am.

Police investigating officer Vineshkumar Moonoo and Captain Mike van Aardt were also present.

Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home last year. He faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State. The trial was due to start at 10am.

MEDIA ENTER PISTORIUS COURTROOM - Sapa

Accredited journalists began entering courtroom GD at 8:42am at the High Court in Pretoria on Monday ahead of paralympian Oscar Pistorius's murder trial.

The first row in the courtroom was reserved for family and the prosecution team.

Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home last year. He faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State. The trial was due to start at 10am.

SNIFFER DOG TAKEN INTO COURT - Sapa

A sniffer dog was led into the High Court in Pretoria on Monday morning ahead of the appearance of murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

Five step ladders had been set up at the entrance of the court by photographers wanting to get a better view during the day.

Two police cars were stationed outside the courthouse and a few metro officers were milling around.

Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home in February last year. He faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

Below is a compilation of quotes of the day.

"The fear in her voice [Reeva Steenkamp's] was horrific." - State witness Michelle Burger.

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"It was very traumatic for me... You can't translate into words the anxiety in her voice." -- Burger.

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"She called for help. She screamed terribly and shouted for help. Then I heard a man also call for help. He called for help three times." --Burger.

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"I woke up due to the petrified screams of the women." -- Burger.

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"It was blood-curling... you can't explain it; you just know, that woman's life was really threatened." -- Burger.

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"You only shout like that if your life is being threatened... it was very intense." -- Burger.

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"At the very least I would expect you to say... Captain van Aardt [investigating officer] let me tell you, it was blood-curdling. It was not there [in her statement]." -- Pistorius' lawyer Barry Roux, while cross-examining Burger.

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"You can't say 'Ek hoor die vrou gille' [I hear the woman screams]." --prosecutor Gerrie Nel, in response to Roux querying Burger's statement in Afrikaans.

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"There were only two people in the house, there were no eye witnesses." -- Nel.

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"The State's case is based on circumstantial evidence... and on what the neighbours heard...and lead ballistic and forensic evidence." -- Nel.

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"There was no argument... It cannot be further from the truth," Pistorius' lawyer Kenny Oldwadge.

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"It's not like it's going to help." -- Oldwadge, when asked if he objected to an early lunch break.

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"Not guilty, My Lady." -- Oscar Pistorius, after being read out the charges against him.Journos wait in cars ahead of trial - Sapa

Journalists waited in their cars and under marquees outside the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday morning ahead of paralympian Oscar Pistorius's second day in the dock.

Some were sipping coffee as grey clouds and rain persisted in the area. Police presence was minimal.

Pistorius is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 last year. He pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act, including possession of ammunition without a licence. He claims he mistook Steenkamp for a burglar.

The 27-year-old claims he woke up when he heard a noise from the bathroom on that day, according to opening remarks by his attorney Kenny Oldwadge.

"Reeva must have gone to a toilet, [and] closed the sliding doors," Oldwadge said reading from a statement.

"I [Pistorius] approached the bathroom to defend Reeva and I."

The first witness, Michelle Burger, took the stand on Monday and testified that she heard a woman's "blood-curdling" screams coming from his house on the night of the shooting.

Cross-examination of Burger was due to continue on Tuesday.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom were broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

'OSCAR APPEARED TO BE ON SOME KIND OF MEDICATION': JOURNO - Sapa

A foreign journalist filing his report after the first day of Oscar Pistorius's murder trial made his sister Aimee frown in the High Court in Pretoria.

The reporter, speaking the Queen's English into his cellphone moments after Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned proceedings for the day, said the paralympic athlete "looked like an unconcerned spectator" and "appeared to be on some kind of medication".

Aimee and Carl Pistorius were standing in the front row of the public gallery in court GD, with the portly journalist four benches behind them.

They were looking in his direction and frowned and turned away when they heard him.

Pistorius's trial for the murder of his girlfriend, model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp, continues on Tuesday at 9.30am.

OSCAR 'SCREAMS LIKE A WOMAN' - Sapa

Oscar Pistorius screams like a woman when he is anxious, the High Court in Pretoria was told during his murder trial on Monday.

"You know ...if Mr Pistorius is very anxious if he screams it sounds like a woman's voice," said Pistorius's counsel Barry Roux, SC.

He was cross-examining witness Michelle Burger who said she heard the screams the night he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The court giggled slightly at Roux's submission, which came during a lengthy period of cross-examining Burger -- who has testified that she heard a woman's screams on that night, and a man's screams, then a woman's scream, then nothing.

Roux said witnesses could testify to this trait of Pistorius.

"He was screaming higher and lower and that is why you would hear what you, at that time of the morning, would associate with a man screaming and a woman screaming," said Roux.

He said one thing the court had heard from Burger's testimony was that all the screams she heard were not at the same time.

The State will try to prove that he committed pre-meditated murder.

Earlier, his defence denied the State's contention that Pistorius and Steenkamp had argued before her death around 3am on Valentine's Day.

Roux said: "All I'm saying when he's anxious his voice pitches and it sounds like a woman screaming."

Burger insisted she heard a woman scream.

PISTORIUS HANDS NOTE TO LEGAL TEAM - Sapa

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius was seen taking down notes on the first day of his murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

Around 3pm, he handed a note to his legal team while the testimony of the first witness Michelle Burger continued into the afternoon.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including the possession of ammunition without a licence.

The 27-year-old is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home last year.

INTERPRETING QUESTIONED IN OSCAR TRIAL - Sapa

The interpreting from Afrikaans to English was questioned in Oscar Pistorius's murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

Pistorius's counsel Barry Roux, SC, had just heard witness Michelle Burger testify that the night after the shooting she was "deurmekaar" --which the interpreter translated as confused.

As Roux rounded in on the word "confused", as part of a line of questioning on how many shots had been fired the night Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead, the judge interrupted.

"Is there a difficulty between you and the interpreter," asked Judge Thokozile Masipa.

Burger hesitated then said: "She is interpreting what I am saying. Some of the words are not what I am saying and then I am correcting in English."

She said she was willing to speak English and then change to Afrikaans.

Her mother tongue is Afrikaans and she prefers Afrikaans but if it was easier for the court, then she would speak English, she said.

Masipa said she should make up her mind and she settled for Afrikaans.

ONLY FOUR SHOTS HEARD, WITNESS SAYS - Sapa

A witness who heard the gunshots that killed Reeva Steenkamp told the High Court in Pretoria on Monday there could not have been shots fired while she was asleep.

Barry Roux, for murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius, asked Michelle Burger if there could have been more shots fired while she was sleeping.

"No it's not possible. I woke up from the screams of a woman. I made a phone call [to security guards], then I heard the petrified screams of a woman and the shots," she said.

Roux and Burger seemed at times to get frustrated as each felt the other was not understanding them.

"What was my question? Because I think there is some misunderstanding," Roux asked her.

Pistorius is accused of the premeditated murder of Steenkamp, of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, and recklessly discharging a firearm in public.

His lawyers will argue that he mistook her for an intruder when he shot her through the toilet door of his home in the Silverwoods Country Estate around 3am on February 14 last year.

HUSBAND MAY HAVE HEARD MORE SHOTS - Sapa

A witness who testified that she heard four shots on the night Reeva Steenkamp was killed said her husband claimed to have possibly heard more shots, the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

"I discussed the screams and shots with my husband... He said he wasn't sure whether it was four, five or six shots," said Michelle Burger.

Burger lives in Silver Stream Estate, next to Silverwoods Country Estate, the complex where paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Steenkamp.

She was under cross-examination by Pistorius's lawyer, Kenny Oldwadge.

He questioned why her version possibly differed from her husband.

"My husband's testimony is his own," said Burger.

Burger earlier told the court that she heard the petrified screams of a woman who was calling for help, followed by the gunshots.

She said she initially thought the woman was screaming for help as there was a house breaking.

Pistorius watched and listened attentively as Burger testified. He occasionally looked down where it seemed like he was writing something.

WITNESS GRILLED - Sapa

A witness was grilled on Monday on whether she thought paralympian Oscar Pistorius lied at his bail hearing when he was charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Barry Roux, SC, for Steenkamp, began cross-examining Michelle Burger by asking her if she believed "Oscar Pistorius lied".

"As you stand there, as you testify in chief, you do it from the perspective that Oscar Pistorius lied in the bail application and his defence is a lie?"

She replied: "I could not understand how I could clearly hear a woman scream but Mr Pistorius could not hear that."

Pistorius said he thought an intruder was in the house when he fired four shots through the door of the toilet at his home and killed Steenkamp who was inside. He was horrified to find that Steenkamp was inside.

She died on the scene.

Roux asked: "Do you believe the man?"

Burger said there were four screams, that a man screamed help three times.

She said Roux should ask another question if her answer was not clear enough.

He said she either did or did not think he lied at his bail application.

She said if he said he did not hear a woman scream, then he had to explain that to the court.

Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Burger lives in Silverstreams, which is next door to Pistorius's home Silverwoods. Her and her husband were woken by a woman's screams, a man's screams, then four shots.

WITNESS RECALLS SHOUTS - Sapa

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius's murder trial began in dramatic fashion on Monday with the testimony of a neighbour who heard a woman's "blood-curdling" screams coming from his house the night he shot Reeva Steenkamp.

A year after the shooting, a sombre Pistorius stood in the dock in the high court in Pretoria to answer to prosecutor Gerrie Nel's charge of premeditated murder.

As expected, the Olympic gold medalist denied guilt and insisted that he had mistakenly believed he was firing at an intruder hiding in his Pretoria home when he shot and killed Steenkamp through a locked toilet door.

Asked by Judge Thokoliza Mapisa to plead, Pistorius softly responded: "Not guilty, My Lady" to the murder charge and several others relating to the fire arms act.

In a statement read out by his attorney, Kenny Oldwage, the athlete said there was "no basis whatsoever" for the State's contention that he had wanted to kill his glamorous girlfriend of three months.

He also vehemently denied Nel's contention that the couple had argued before the shooting on Valentine's Day last year.

But Nel immediately set out to prove that Pistorius was lying by calling Michelle Burger, an economics lecturer at the University of Pretoria, as the State's first witness.

Burger lives in the Silver Stream security estate, at a distance of 177 metres from Pistorius's home in the neighbouring Silver Woods complex.

Testifying in Afrikaans, she told the court she was woken up that night by the "blood-curdling screams" of a woman, followed by four gunshots.

Burgess said she and her husband woke up just after 3am when they heard the noise. Her husband rushed to the balcony.

"I was still sitting in the bed and I heard her screams," she told the court.

"She called for help. She screamed terribly and shouted for help. Then I heard a man also call for help. He called for help three times."

Burger said her husband called security guards and asked them to investigate.

"Then I heard her screams again," said Burger. "It was like a climax. I heard her anxiety. She was very scared."

Burger then heard shots, with a longer pause between the first and second shot than the rest.

"It was bang.....bang,bang,bang," she said.

Burger said she only learnt at work that Pistorius was arrested and then realised from aerial photographs shown in media footage just how close to him she lived.

The court adjourned for lunch after Burger left the stand.

Pistorius, who wore a black suit and tie, looked at his watch, got up and walked out alone, shaking hands with a few people along the way.

The case had started 90 minutes late as justice officials had to locate an interpreter to allow Burger to give testimony in Afrikaans.

While the opening arguments of the State and the defence were broadcast live on television, her face was not shown as she had requested to testify off camera.

It remains unclear whether Pistorius will take the stand in what has been dubbed the trial of the decade.

Oldwage on Monday read Pistorius's version of events to the court. In the statement, Pistorius insisted: "I approached the bathroom to defend Reeva and I," and objected to what he called the State's attempts at character assassination.

Nel told the court that since there were no eye witnesses, the State will rely on circumstantial and forensic evidence to convict Pistorius.

Burger could be followed by more than 100 other state witnesses as the seasoned prosecutor sets out to do so in the glare of intense media scrutiny.

More than 300 reporters have vied for space in the court room and an overflow court and a scrum of local and foreign photographers have set up watch outside the court.

BURGER FOUND OUT ABOUT MURDER LATER - Sapa

Witness Michelle Burger only found out later on February 14 last year that Reeva Steenkamp had been killed, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

"I only made a statement later on because I don't live in Silverwoods [Estate]," said Burger.

"We thought there would be people in Silverwoods that would testify because we are not in that estate."

Burger said that around 3am on February 14 she heard screams and thought a housebreaking had taken place.

"It was very traumatic for me... It leaves you chilled. You can't translate into words the anxiety in her voice," she said.

"I thought it was a housebreaking. We thought someone was attacked."

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including possession of ammunition without a licence.

'SCREAMS, THEN MORE SCREAMS': MICHELLE BURGER - Sapa

A neighbour heard a woman's "terrible screams" from Oscar Pistorius's house in the early hours of February 14 last year, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Thursday.

"She screamed terribly and called for help. Then I heard a man calling for help three times," Michelle Burger said during questioning by prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

The slender woman, dressed in black, spoke in Afrikaans and had her testimony translated into English. Her evidence was not televised.

Her house is in the Silver Stream estate, on the border of the Silver Woods estate, where Pistorius had his home.

After Burger's husband called security, she heard a woman scream again.

"The screams were more intense. It was like a climax," Burger said.

"The fear in her voice was horrific."

Then she heard four gunshots.

The State will try to prove that Pistorius committed premeditated murder when he shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp through a bathroom door in his Pretoria home on February 14 last year.

In addition he is charged with illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

His lawyers will argue that he mistook her for an intruder when he shot her.

SHOOTING WAS TRAUMATIC: MICHELLE BURGER - Sapa

The shooting of Reeva Steenkamp was traumatic for witness Michelle Burger, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

"It was very traumatic for me... You can't translate into words the anxiety in her voice," she said of the screams she heard.

"I thought it was a housebreaking. We thought someone was attacked."

She woke up around 3am when she heard the woman scream twice from the neighbouring Silver Woods Estate, where Pistorius resided.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including possession of ammunition without a licence.

'STATE'S CASE CIRCUMSTANTIAL: PROSECUTOR GERRIE NEL - Sapa

"There were only two people in the house, there were no eye witnesses," he told the court on Monday.

The State's case is based on circumstantial evidence, prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the High Court in Pretoria.

"There were only two people in the house, there were no eye witnesses," he told the court on Monday.

"The State's case is based on circumstantial evidence... and on what the neighbours heard...and lead ballistic and forensic evidence.'

He said the State would prove that Pistorius killed Steenkamp with direct intent.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including possession of ammunition without a licence.

FIRST WITNESS TAKES THE STAND - Sapa

The first witness took the stand in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday after midday.

A woman, Michelle Burger, who lives next door to the Silverwoods Estate, where paralympian Oscar Pistorius lived, said she heard screams on February 14 in the early morning hours.

"I heard a woman's terrible screams. I sat upright... and my husband also woke up from the screams. My husband jumped up and went to the balcony."

Burger heard a woman scream for help.

Burger's testimony was not televised.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including possession of ammunition without a licence.

CONTAMINATION TO BE DEALT WITH: COURT HEARS - Sapa

Contamination of the crime scene at murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius's Pretoria home would be dealt with, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel gave this undertaking as he handed in photographs as evidence. These included pictures from the post mortem, the crime scene and Tasha's restaurant.

A report of the weather conditions on February 14 last year, between 3am and 4am, was also handed in. This was the day Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead by Pistorius.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including possession of ammunition without a licence.

STATE'S CLAIM OF SHOOTING UNFAIR : PISTORIUS LAWYER - Sapa

"No evidence can be tendered that I fired the shots because of the argument," Kenny Oldwage, for Pistorius, said. He was reading from Pistorius's plea explanation.

The State's claim that Oscar Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp during an argument is "unfair and incorrect", the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

"No evidence can be tendered that I fired the shots because of the argument," Kenny Oldwage, for Pistorius, said. He was reading from Pistorius's plea explanation.

Apart from Oldwage's voice, the only other sound in court was the clicking of laptop keyboards among the media.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him, including the premeditated murder of Steenkamp.

The State will try to prove that Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp in his Pretoria home on February 14 last year, allegedly because of an argument.

His lawyers will argue that he mistook her for an intruder when he shot her through a closed toilet door.

STEENKAMP SHOT MULTIPLE TIMES

Reeva Steenkamp was shot multiple times on February 14 last year, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the body suffered no additional injuries.

Photographs taken during post mortem were handed in as evidence.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including the possession of ammunition without a licence.

PISTORIUS PLEADS NOT GUILTY

Oscar Pistorius pleaded not guilty to murder on Monday as his sensational trial got underway 90 minutes after officials tried to locate an Afrikaans interpreter at the last minute.

But the late start was also due to another bid by a woman who also disrupted the Paralympian's bail hearing to bring an application to the North Gauteng High Court.

The mysterious woman, who gave her name only as Anna-Marie and claimed she knew Pistorius's late mother, was led out of the building just before 11 am.

Court officials then explained they had also managed to resolve logistical problems related to translation services for the trial --reportedly because one of the witnesses wanted to testify in Afrikaans.

Proceedings in the Pretoria court finally began at 11.30 am, with prosecutor Gerrie Nel formally bringing a charge of premeditated murder.

Asked to plead, Pistorius, 27, responded: "Not guilty."

The prosecutor and a team of senior detectives will set out to prove in coming weeks that Pistorius deliberately shot and killed his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp while she cowered behind a locked toilet door in his home on Valentine's Day last year.

Nel proceeded to read further charges relating to contravention of the firearms act, some relating to a now infamous incident in a restaurant in Melrose Arch months before Steenkamp's death.

Asked by Judge Thokozile Masipa how he pleaded, Pistorius to each count responded: "Not guilty, my lady."

The athlete's attorney, Kenny Oldwage, then read Pistorius's version of events to the court.

As expected, he submitted that he had mistakenly believed there was an intruder in his house.

"Reeva must have gone to a toilet, [and] closed the sliding doors," Oldwage read to the court.

"I approached the bathroom to defend Reeva and I."

"There was "no basis whatsoever" for the State's contention that he had wanted to kill Steenkamp, Pistorius's statement continued.

It disputed the State's argument that there had been a row between the couple on the night of the shooting, and denied that Pistorius wore his prosthesis when he fired four shots into the locked door.

Pistorius, dressed in a black suit and tie, arrived at the red-brick court house in Pretoria early in the morning, carrying a pen and notebook and a small green pillow to sit on in the dock.

His family and Steenkamp's mother June -- who sat in the front seats of the court room, some distance from each other.

Also in court was police investigating officer Vineshkumar Moonoo --assinged to the case after a faltering start for the police last year --and detective Captain Mike van Aardt.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

More than 300 reporters have vied for space in the court room and a scrum of local and foreign photographers have set up watch outside the court.

PISTORIUS DENIES ARGUMENT WITH STEENKAMP - Sapa

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius denied arguing with his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 last year when she was shot dead, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

"I deny this," he said, according to a statement read out by Pistorius's attorney Kenny Oldwage.

He also argues that the crime scene was contaminated by police.

Pistorius said he woke up when he heard a noise from the bathroom on February 14.

"Reeva must have gone to a toilet, [and] closed the sliding doors..."

"I approached the bathroom to defend Reeva and I."

He thought it was an intruder.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, and contraventions under the Firearms Control Act including the possession of ammunition without a licence.

Penpix of personalities in Pistorius trial - Reuters

Following are penpix of some of the personalities in the murder trial of Paralympic and Olympic star Oscar Pistorius, which is due to start in Pretoria on Monday:

  • ARNOLD PISTORIUS

Pistorius' uncle Arnold has taken the role of family spokesman since the arrest of his nephew, who has been staying at Arnold's mansion in a wealthy Pretoria neighbourhood since his release on bail.

The track star is estranged from his father, Henke, who last year told a newspaper he and other family members owned a total of 55 guns because they could not count on the police to protect them from crime. Pistorius' mother died when he was 15.

  • JUNE STEENKAMP

Reeva Steenkamp's mother June will be at the start of the trial on March 3, although she will be without her horse-trainer husband, Barry, who is recovering from a stroke at the family's home in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth.

The family has been devastated by Reeva's death, with June telling a South African paper this month: "It is bad. Bad, bad, bad and nothing that is done will change that. Under the circumstances we are not okay. We are not all right. Nothing will make us alright."

  • THOKOZILE MASIPA

A former newspaper crime reporter who later became a lawyer, Masipa was only the second black woman to be appointed a high court judge in South Africa.

She has a track record of handing down stiff penalties in crimes against women and has given life terms to rapists.

She reduced one convicted rapist and robber to tears in court, handing him three life sentences for three rapes and an additional 27 years for charges of robbery and attempted murder.

  • BARRY ROUX

Lead defence attorney Barry Roux is regarded as one of South Africa's most skilled - and expensive - criminal lawyers, with a reputation for ruthless cross-examination and a flair for theatrics.

At last year's bail hearing, Roux dismantled Hilton Botha, the lead detective on the case, forcing him to concede that Pistorius' version of the events was plausible, while relentlessly accusing him of shoddy detective work.

Botha was later pulled off the case after it emerged he himself faced attempted murder charges.

  • GERRIE NEL

Lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel is a veteran lawyer known for his intense preparation and ability to take on the powerful and politically connected. His biggest scalp is former police chief and Interpol head Jackie Selebi, who was convicted of corruption in 2010.

At the bail hearing a year ago, Nel painstakingly crafted a picture of Pistorius as a cold-blooded killer who fired through a door at his cowering girlfriend. "She could go nowhere," he said. "It must have been horrific."

ANCWL SING OUTSIDE COURT - Sapa

The ANC Womens' League sang outside the High Court in Pretoria on Monday ahead of the murder trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

"Uyaya ejele...uyaya uOscar uyaya..." they sang.

The song says "Oscar is going to jail". The ANCWL were joined by men in civilian clothes.

The trial was delayed as the court waited for an Afrikaans interpreter.

Pistorius, 27, is charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day last year and contravening the Firearms Control Act.

He has said he thought she was an intruder when he shot her through a closed toilet door.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

ANNAMARIE ESCORTED OUT OF COURT - Sapa

Police and court orderlies were escorting a woman known as Annemarie out of High Court in Pretoria on Monday, after she apparently sought to bring an application to have murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius committed.

The woman has on previous occasions tried to bring a similar application without success.

The trial was delayed, apparently because the court was awaiting the arrival of an Afrikaans interpreter.

Several members of both legal teams were seen leaving the courtroom.

Pistorius, 27, is charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day last year and contravening the Firearms Control Act.

He has said he thought she was an intruder when he shot her through a closed toilet door.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

PISTORIUS HAS NOTEBOOK READY - Sapa

Murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius was ready to take down notes at the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

His black notebook was on his lap and he had a pen in hand.

A sketch artist was seen facing Pistorius with pencil and paper ready.

The 27-year-old double amputee was also seen passing a note to his family sitting behind him in courtroom GD.

Pistorius faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

Murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius was ready to take down notes at the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

His black notebook was on his lap and he had a pen in hand.

A sketch artist was seen facing Pistorius with pencil and paper ready.

The 27-year-old double amputee was also seen passing a note to his family sitting behind him in courtroom GD.

Pistorius faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

 

LAST-MINUTE TALKS IN COURT BEFORE TRIAL STARTS - Sapa

At least 13 lawyers had last-minute snatches of conversation ahead of the start of Oscar Pistorius's murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

With Pistorius leaning over the dock to speak to his own counsel Barry Roux, Roux's robed adversary prosecutor Gerrie Nel peered over his spectacles at the other side of the courtroom, waiting for Judge Thokozile Masipa to set proceedings in motion.

Pistorius is charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day last year and contravening the Firearms Control Act. He has said he thought she was an intruder when he shot her through a closed toilet door.

Steenkamp's mother June, behind him to his right, occasionally glanced over at him.

His own family filled the left of the front bench, also only speaking occasionally.

PISTORIUS ENTERS COURT ROOM - Sapa

Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius entered court GD at the High Court in Pretoria on Monday morning, to face a charge of the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

He was ushered into the court through a side entrance and took a cushion as he sat down in the dock. He was wearing a grey suit, took a sip of water and shrugged his shoulders.

He leaned forward and spoke to one of the members of his defence team sitting in front of him.

Pistorius is accused of the premeditated murder of Steenkamp.

His lawyers will argue that he mistook her for an intruder when he shot her through a bathroom door.

June Steenkamp, Reeva's mother, sitting on a court bench just looked at him briefly, showing no emotion.

Pistorius, wearing a grey suit and a white shirt, avoided looking at the public gallery and his brother Carl and sisteR Aimee were sitting.

Oscar Pistorius whispered something in the ear of his lawyer Barry Roux.

A police officer removed his cap and shook hands with the accused.

MEDIA NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK TO LEGAL TEAM - Sapa

Journalists were asked not to speak to the judge or the prosecution teams in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday ahead of the murder-trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

Lulama Luti, spokeswoman for the Office of the Chief Justice, told media not to speak to them and ordered reporters not to take pictures of the courtroom with cellphones or tablets.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Nathi Ncube, addressing media in the public gallery, said they would not discuss the merits of the case.

Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home last year. He faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva, glanced over at the Pistorius family when they walked into the courtroom.

The trial was due to begin at 10am.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

LEGAL TEAMS MEET OUTSIDE COURT - Sapa

The prosecution and the defence team in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial left the court room through the judge's entrance, apparently to hold a meeting prior to proceedings in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday morning.

The court room was filling up ahead of Pistorius's appearance.

He is accused of shooting dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at his Pretoria home on February 14, 2013. He has claimed he had mistaken her for an intruder.

Pistorius siblings Aimee and Carl sat in the same row as the Steenkamp family.

The Pistorius and Steenkamp families left a large gap between themselves on the bench.

Steenkamp's mother, June, and those who accompanied her were dressed in black. She sat quietly in the gallery, waiting for the proceedings to begin.

LAWYERS TALK AHEAD OF CASE -Sapa

The State's prosecutor Gerrie Nel and Steenkamp family lawyer Dup de Bruyn began talking inside courtroom GD ahead of paralympian Oscar Pistorius's murder trial on Monday morning.

Pistorius's lawyers Brian Webber and Barry Roux were seen chatting, while the double-amputee's brother Carl, wearing a blue suit, was led into the High Court in Pretoria by police.

Carl seemed uncomfortable as looked around the courtroom and whispered to his sister Aimee.

The Pistorius siblings have in the past court appearances shown a united front. During Pistorius's bail application over a year ago, they were seen praying together in the court before the proceedings began.

Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home last year. He faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva, glanced over at the Pistorius family when they walked into the courtroom. The trial was due to begin at 10am.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

STEENKAMP FAMILY IN COURT - Sapa

The murder-trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius was due to begin at 10am in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

Reeva Steenkamp's mother, June, and other family members began taking their seats in the first row of court room GD before 9am.

Steenkamp's lawyer Dup de Bruyn was also seen inside the court room, as was cellphone record expert, Captain Francois Moller.

De Bruyn was seated next to June Steenkamp who was dressed in black.

She told the Star she wanted to look Pistorius in the eye.

"I want to look at Oscar, really look him in the eyes, and see for myself the truth about what he did to Reeva," she was quoted as saying.

"And whatever the court decides at the end of his trial, I will be ready to forgive him."

Also in court was Pistorius's sister Aimee, his advocate Barry Roux, police investigating officer Vineshkumar Moonoo, and Captain Mike van Aardt who was expected to testify for the State.

Excited chatter rose from the journalists in the public gallery, where the benches were rapidly filling up by 9am.

Roux was already behind his podium, arranging a box of files. He will try to prove that Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp by mistake, after he thought she was an intruder.

Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering Steenkamp at his Pretoria home last year. He faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

STEENKAMP FAMILY ENTER COURT - Sapa

Reeva Steenkamp's mother June and other family members began entering courtroom GD in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday before 9am, ahead of Oscar Pistorius's murder trial.

Steenkamp's lawyer Dup de Bruyn was also inside the court room, as was cellphone records expert Captain Francois Moller.

A throng of journalists began entering the courtroom at 8.23am.

Police investigating officer Vineshkumar Moonoo and Captain Mike van Aardt were also present.

Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home last year. He faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State. The trial was due to start at 10am.

MEDIA ENTER PISTORIUS COURTROOM - Sapa

Accredited journalists began entering courtroom GD at 8:42am at the High Court in Pretoria on Monday ahead of paralympian Oscar Pistorius's murder trial.

The first row in the courtroom was reserved for family and the prosecution team.

Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home last year. He faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State. The trial was due to start at 10am.

SNIFFER DOG TAKEN INTO COURT - Sapa

A sniffer dog was led into the High Court in Pretoria on Monday morning ahead of the appearance of murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

Five step ladders had been set up at the entrance of the court by photographers wanting to get a better view during the day.

Two police cars were stationed outside the courthouse and a few metro officers were milling around.

Pistorius, 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home in February last year. He faces charges of premeditated murder and contravening the Firearms Control Act in a trial which is expected to last at least three weeks.

The proceedings in the wood-panelled courtroom will be broadcast live on television and radio, with the initial indictment listing 107 witnesses to testify for the State.

Below is a compilation of quotes of the day.

"The fear in her voice [Reeva Steenkamp's] was horrific." - State witness Michelle Burger.

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"It was very traumatic for me... You can't translate into words the anxiety in her voice." -- Burger.

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"She called for help. She screamed terribly and shouted for help. Then I heard a man also call for help. He called for help three times." --Burger.

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"I woke up due to the petrified screams of the women." -- Burger.

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"It was blood-curling... you can't explain it; you just know, that woman's life was really threatened." -- Burger.

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"You only shout like that if your life is being threatened... it was very intense." -- Burger.

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"At the very least I would expect you to say... Captain van Aardt [investigating officer] let me tell you, it was blood-curdling. It was not there [in her statement]." -- Pistorius' lawyer Barry Roux, while cross-examining Burger.

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"You can't say 'Ek hoor die vrou gille' [I hear the woman screams]." --prosecutor Gerrie Nel, in response to Roux querying Burger's statement in Afrikaans.

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"There were only two people in the house, there were no eye witnesses." -- Nel.

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"The State's case is based on circumstantial evidence... and on what the neighbours heard...and lead ballistic and forensic evidence." -- Nel.

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"There was no argument... It cannot be further from the truth," Pistorius' lawyer Kenny Oldwadge.

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"It's not like it's going to help." -- Oldwadge, when asked if he objected to an early lunch break.

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"Not guilty, My Lady." -- Oscar Pistorius, after being read out the charges against him.

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