Oscar Pistorius: Valentine’s day of despair

"My boyfriend really loves Valentine's Day." These were the words of Reeva Steenkamp (30) to a shop assistant in eastern Pretoria around 3pm on February 13 – just 12 hours before she was shot and killed.

By 5am on February 14, Steenkamp was dead – allegedly at the hands of her boyfriend, Paralympian Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorius.

The Mail & Guardian has learnt that Steenkamp, an FHM model, visited Party Box Goodies, a gift shop in the Hazeldean Square just up the street from Pistorius's house in the upmarket Silver Woods gated community.

She was there to buy "Valentine's Day wrapping paper", according to the shop assistant who helped Steenkamp. The assistant, who asked not to be named, said that the blonde model appeared happy and in love. "She was smiling and laughing when she arrived," said the assistant. "She walked out smiling, too … I offered to wrap the gift for her. It was a photo frame and four photographs of the two of them [Pistorius and Steenkamp]. I told her that it's good for women to give Valentine's Day gifts instead of expecting presents from their boyfriends. She agreed, and added: 'This is a surprise for him. He loves surprises.'"


More Oscar Pistorius coverage

Pistorius: Firms try to dodge speeding bullet
Reports of aggression haunt Oscar Pistorius' social relationships
Pistorious surrounded by guns


Police would not confirm specific details regarding the alleged crime scene inside Pistorius's home, but it was rumoured that the white picture frame lay shattered beside Steenkamp's body when police arrived.

Police spokesperson, Brigadier Denise Beukes said forensic detectives had taken over the crime scene and that details of the scene remained "unclear". However, she confirmed that there was no sign of forced entry into Pistorius's home.

Incidents of a domestic nature
On February 14, reports emerged that neighbours had heard screams coming from Pistorius's home on the night of February 13. The police were allegedly called following the sound of gunshots being fired.

Beukes confirmed that, in 2009, Pistorius was charged and arrested following allegations of "incidents of a domestic nature" made by another woman. The charges were later withdrawn .

Pistorius was expected to appear in court on February 15 on a murder charge. The state was expected to oppose bail. Beukes said this was "standard" in cases involving alleged murder.


Initial reports said that Pistorius told the police that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and fired "at least two shots" early on the morning of Valentine's Day.

Beukes later said that version of events did not come from the police. Pistorius was due to make an official statement to the police late on the afternoon of February 14.

Steenkamp tweeted on February 13 that Valentine's Day "should be a day of love for everyone" and, earlier: "It's a beautiful day! Make things happen. Starting my day off with a yummy healthy shake from my boo." A few weeks ago, she had boasted on Twitter about Pistorius, posted a picture and said: "He's beautiful to look at and says some smart stuff too."

Pistorius was held at the Boschkop Police Station in eastern Pretoria on Februay 14. He arrived in the back of a police van as part of a 10-car convoy. He later appeared wearing sneakers, jeans and a grey hoodie, obscuring his face from the scores of national and international media waiting outside.

He was taken to the Mamelodi Day Hospital, where blood samples were taken – standard practice in murder investigations. Pistorius was transported back to the station where it is believed he was formally charged and gave a statement to the police.

* Got a tip-off for us about this story? Email [email protected]

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sarah Evans
Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans interned at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley for three years before completing an internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane). She went on to work as a Mail & Guardian news reporter with areas of interest including crime, law, governance and the nexus between business and politics. 

Sally Evans
Guest Author
Advertising

Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it
Advertising

Press Releases

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations