'Whatever it took, we had to get in'
'Please STOP.' I hear the voice of a schoolteacher cut through the crowd. Except it's my voice, adopting a matronly tone to try and convince an over ambitious radio reporter to get his elbow out of my eye.
To my right, two girls from The Sowetan newspaper have locked hands and the one in front of me is trying to forcefully pull her friend (behind me) through the crowd. Not so fast, I think. I know that trick - I use it to get to the front at Glastonbury.
Bodies are packed so tightly as we surge towards a police line that you can't breathe. This isn't a normal press crush - it's actually inside court.
End Quote Kate Forbes
From the bruises I inspect after every morning's fight to get in, I feel like I'm playing for the San Francisco 49ers, not working for the BBC.”
The staff are completely overwhelmed. Fox News described entry into this court as 'the hottest ticket since the Super Bowl'. From the bruises I inspect after every morning's fight to get in, I feel like I'm playing for the San Francisco 49ers, not working for the BBC.No sleep since Valentine's Day
But all the press are desperate to get in. Since Valentine's Day, none of us have had any sleep. Since an early breathless call which sent the BBC teams into action - Justine Lang, Andrew Harding and Stuart Phillips flying down the motorway to an exclusive gated community where Oscar Pistorius had shot his girlfriend.
The initial reports were easy to believe - he'd thought she was a burglar - and many people here are armed at home. But then the story twisted and turned, spiralling through the day as new lines came out. We were on top of them all. Gringo Wotshela shot and fed as our second camera and Peter Biles stoically held the fort for lives that seemed to never end. This was huge.
Local journalists were quickly joined by Fleet Street hacks, European scribblers and big money Americans. The court case had begun. Outside court, Peter racked up 14 lives per half an hour - 'this must be a record' Gringo tweeted.Ducking and diving
Inside court, some first class ducking and diving began. Using a combination of charm, random documents, blackmail and brute force to make sure we got in, Andrew Harding and I played good cop bad cop, and very bad cop. Whatever it took, we had to get in.
One US correspondent, who will remain anonymous, decided her tactic was to brazenly push to the front of a jostling queue and, when questioned, declare to the other journalists that 'none of you know what this case is even about'. When a court staffer tried to point out that an agency scribe next to her would supply her lines from court, she rolled her eyes: 'He doesn't know what he's talking about. I can't rely on HIM.'
South Africans, courteous and polite when they are not rioting, were stunned. We all were.Police in the dock
End Quote Kate Forbes
Using a combination of charm, random documents, blackmail and brute force to make sure we got in, Andrew Harding and I played good cop bad cop, and very bad cop. ”
And so the case began. The prosecution laid out their case against Oscar. The shooting was deliberate and pre meditated, they argued. No bail. The defence laid out its version of events. An affidavit from Oscar Pistorius was read out. The detail was touching. 'Reeva was doing her yoga exercises and I was watching television in bed.' While listening to his own words, he collapsed several times in heaving sobs.
The court was overflowing with press even sitting on the floor: six of them squashed on a bench labelled 'court sketch artist'.
A British tabloid hack was sitting in the witness box, at one point on the feet of Hilton Botha, a bungling policeman called by the state to support their argument that Pistorius shouldn't be granted bail. He was the state's star witness, but when questioned by the Defence, he crumbled. It emerged he didn't even bother to put on protective clothing when entering the crime scene. The South African police service was suddenly in the dock.
Outside Nomsa Maseko, Victoria Phenethi and Glenn Middleton formed a second BBC team to make sure everybody got a piece of the action. And senior producer Tara Neill made a star appearance before her new gig in Washington.Lunch with the family
The Pistorius family seemed to want to talk, but had been advised not to. They bought some journalists lunch, but tried not to say much. Oscar's sister never said anything at all. Oscar's aunt was charming and relaxed. 'Haven't you got lovely skin!' she said to me. 'That's the English for you.' Photographers around me laughed as I went bright red.
End Quote Kate Forbes
Oscar's sister never said anything at all. Oscar's aunt was charming and relaxed. 'Haven't you got lovely skin!' she said to me. 'That's the English for you.' ”
Oscar's brother emerged as having his own conviction for manslaughter pending. 'Not another weekend!' was the response as it broke late on Friday night. After Mali we had decided weekends were just a waste of time anyway, so on we went.
The bloodied cricket bat, the broken down bathroom door, the father, the family's gun collection - every day has held a new development. Audience research emailed us to let us know that over 90% of British adults were interested - from our twitter feeds that felt about right.Tweets and texts
And this story was lived on twitter. Local journalists saw their followers somersault from hundreds to thousands to over a hundred thousand. Andrew Harding and I live tweeted from court, although I must admit that it was old fashioned texting that was the fastest to feed Peter Biles with who was saying what from court. Outside, he was quoting on air as fast as I could type.
Everyone here in South Africa has his or her own theory on the murder of Reeva Steenkamp and on Oscar himself. Even the ANC called for an end to speculation. But there's no chance of that.
Oscar Pistorius is back in court on June 4 for a hearing. And so are we.