This is Prof Gert Saayman, the pathologist who examined Reeva Steenkamp after Oscar Pistorius shot her dead
This is Prof Gert Saayman, the pathologist who examined Reeva Steenkamp after Oscar Pistorius shot her dead. North Gauteng High Court

Disturbing evidence from the pathologist who examined Reeva Steenkamp's corpse was banned from live broadcast at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial.

The graphic nature of the evidence was confirmed when Pistorius vomited in the dock during testimony by professor Gert Saayman, of the University of Pretoria forensic department.

Pistorius was described as "inconsolate" by witnesses in court as he curled up into a ball while his siblings Karl and Aimee tried to comfort him.

Earlier, judge Thoozile Masipa had also banned journalists from using Twitter to report live what professor Gert Saayman told the court.

Pistorius's extreme reaction hinted at the disturbing nature of Saayman's testimony about the condition of Steenkamp, after Pistorius shot her three times through the door of a bathroom in his luxury home on the outskirts of Pretoria.

The order was made by judge Thoozile Masipa on day six of the track star's murder trial at North Gauteng High Court.

The decision to pull the plug on the TV feed came after Prof Saayman raised his personal concerns about it. The court heard that "graphic detail" in his testimony would "harm vulnerable people" who might come across it online and also harm certain rights of Steenkamp's family.

Prof Saayman told the court he thought broadcasting his evidence would go against his professional principles and also "the morals of society."

A lawyer acting for broadcast firms claimed the principles of freedom of speech and expression would be damaged if no part of Saayman's evidence could be broadcast.

Addressing the court, Saayman said: "It goes against the good morals of society, in a nature where vulnerable people out there may be exposed to information that could do harm. It's my duty to preserve the dignity of the deceased, I believe that by such public streaming of this nature, it's inevitable we will harm the rights of remaining relatives and friends of the deceased."

Prosecution and defence teams were united in demanding the public cannot watch live Saayman's testimony.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said: "The explicit and graphic nature of the injuries should not be sent in the whole world. It's not a question of press freedom or freedom of expression, but respect and dignity of the deceased, the rights of the family and friends of the deceased."

The media agreed with the principle of not broadcasting Saayman's evidence live, said advocate Nick Ferreira, who represented TV firms covering the case.

But he opposed an outright ban on any part of Saayman's evidence from being broadcast. Ferreira said a package of Saayman's evidence should be compiled for public consumption, with both prosecution and defence having a say in its contents.

He warned that "there may be some aspects of the evidence which are no objectionable, principles established here will guide other courts in future.

Prof Saayman began giving evidence after the plug had been pulled on the court TV feed.

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp
Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp Reuters