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Bathroom bullet hell

Captain Chris Mangena, a police ballistics expert, on Wednesday took to the witness stand to reconstruct how Reeva Steenkamp died. Charl du Plessis looks at the states version of events


Michelle Burger testies that she hears a gunshot, followed by a pause, and then another gunshot. This is consistent with Mangenas testimony because there would have had to be sufcient time for Steenkamp to fall down and raise her arms to her head before the third and fourth bullets were red Both Burger and her husband testied to hearing screaming after the rst shot. This is consistent

with Saaymans evidence that Reevas hip injury could have seen her screaming after the rst shot, notifying Pistorius about her presence in the bathroom The state argues that Steenkamp was facing the door head-on when she was shot, an unnatural position for someone leaving the toilet. Pistorius lawyer Barry Roux says defence experts will dispute this, arguing she was hit with her right side towards the toilet door, as if leaving the bathroom




The rst bullet penetrates the door at A and strikes Reeva Steenkamp in the waist. The projectile is unstable as a result of having hitting door rst. The bullet hits Steenkamps hipbone and fragments. Pathologist Gert Saayman testied this 'very painful wound' would have caused an immediate loss of stability

Steenkamp collapses into a sitting position on a magazine rack next to the toilet. Saayman testies that Steenkamp would still have been conscious after this wound. The second bullet penetrates the door at B. This shot misses Steenkamp. It hits the walls of the bathroom twice and fragments. The fragments hit Steenkamp in the back. The fragments have expended most of their energy by this stage and cause only bruises on Steenkamps back before falling to the oor, underneath the magazine rack

The third and fourth bullets penetrate the door at C and D, respectively. These bullets strike Steenkamp in the arm and head, respectively. Mangena testies that Steenkamp was in a 'defensive position' at this time, with her arms crossed protectively above her head. The bullet that hits her upper arm is 'particularly devastating', fracturing and shattering the bone with enough force to extrude fragments of bone and tissue on to her vest. Saayman testies that the shot to her head, which fractured her skull, would have been 'almost instantly fatal'. All of the bullets that hit the door mobilised splinters, which caused supercial wounds

Mangena says Reeva then slumps over on to the toilet, with her head on the toilet bowl. Police blood-splatter analyst Ian van der Nest testies that small fragments of particulate tissue, broken hair and blood underneath the toilet show that Steenkamp suffered a signicant injury near the toilet. Van der Nest says the blood on the toilet seat and in the bowl came from her head, while blood on the oor came from her arm injury