News

Pistorius knew South African gun safety rules

Pistorius knew South African gun safety rules

ON TRIAL: Testifying on day 11 of the trial, firearms instructor Sean Rens read out a gun license test passed by the track athlete, who shot dead Steenkamp through a locked toilet door at his Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year. Photo: Reuters

By Siyabonga Sishi

PRETORIA (Reuters) – Double-amputee Olympian Oscar Pistorius, on trial for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, was aware of South African firearms and self-defense laws that say you cannot shoot at an intruder unless your life is in danger, a court heard on Monday.

Testifying on day 11 of the trial, firearms instructor Sean Rens read out a gun license test passed by the track athlete, who shot dead Steenkamp through a locked toilet door at his Pretoria home on Valentine’s Day last year.

One of the questions asked whether a home-owner was allowed to open fire on burglars on the other side of a security gate.

Pistorius answered: “No”, Rens, who taught Pistorius gun safety and sold him weapons, told the court.

Asked in the test about the legal basis for using lethal force, Pistorius answered: “The attack must be against you, a person and be unlawful.” In answer to another scenario, Pistorius replied: “No, life is not in danger.”

Pistorius also made clear that a gun-owner should never shoot unless he was knew what he was shooting at, and what lay behind the target: “Know your target and what lies beyond,” Rens said, quoting Pistorius’ answer.

The Paralympic gold medalist, known as the “Blade Runner” on account of his carbon-fiber prostheses, denies the murder charge, saying he shot Steenkamp in a tragic accident after mistaking her, through the door, for a night-time intruder.

Rens also told the court of an incident, related to him by Pistorius, in which the athlete heard noises in his house and went into “code-red or combat mode” only to find the source of the disturbance was a washing machine.

At the time, Pistorius joked on his Twitter account of having gone into “full attack recon mode in the pantry” after thinking an intruder was in his home.

Rens also testified that Pistorius had ordered seven firearms – including an assault rifle and a Smith and Wesson 500 revolver, one of the world’s most powerful handguns – although the orders were cancelled shortly after Steenkamp’s death.

The testimony is likely to back the prosecution’s attempts to depict Pistorius as a gun-obsessed hot-head.

Pistorius’ lower legs were amputated as a baby but he overcame the disability to become the “fastest man on no legs”, running on artificial limbs to win gold medals at the Beijing and London Paralympics. He also reached the 400 meters semi-finals at the London Games, competing against able-bodied athletes.

If found guilty of murder, he faces at least 25 years behind bars.

(Reporting and writing by Xola Potelwa; Editing by Ed Cropley and Alison Williams)

Recent Headlines

in National, World

Six powers and Iran to continue nuclear talks past deadline

irankerry

It is the fourth time the parties have extended the terms of the interim deal, which was struck in November 2013 and provided Iran with limited sanctions relief in exchange for a halt to the production of uranium enriched to a purity level of 20 percent.

in National

Senate, House look to update Bush-era education law

nochildleftbehind

It's something most Democrats and Republicans in Congress can agree on — an update to the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law is much needed and long overdue.

in Sports

Embattled Ray Rice still waiting for another shot at the NFL

rayrice

Former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice is waging an unrelenting crusade to get back on the field nearly a year after being booted from the National Football League - along with his $35 million contract - over a heinous case of domestic abuse.

in Sports

Mayweather stripped of title he won in Pacquiao fight

mayweather

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been stripped of the welterweight world title he won after beating Manny Pacquiao this year for failing to comply with rules.

in Sports

FSU QB Johnson off team after video shows him punching woman

21-overlay5

Freshman De'Andre Johnson faces misdemeanor battery charges.