/ 14 June 2016

The world must see Reeva’s injuries, her father tells court at Oscar Pistorius sentencing hearing

Reeva Steenkamp
Reeva Steenkamp

Reeva Steenkamp’s father Barry wants the world to see images of the injuries Oscar Pistorius inflicted on her when he shot her, the high court in Pretoria heard on Tuesday.

“What I would like the world to see are the wounds inflicted on Reeva and the pain that she must have gone through, so that the world can see this and distract [sic] people who are thinking of this type of deed in future,” he said during arguments in aggravation of sentencing.

As he spoke, Pistorius’s uncle Arnold sat listening, shaking his head. During Pistorius’s trial, the court was shown a photo of Steenkamp’s head wound after Pistorius shot her through the door of his toilet on February 14, 2013.

Steenkamp said he wanted Pistorius to pay for murdering her. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel led Steenkamp in giving evidence.

Steenkamp, 73, was one of four witnesses the court heard during sentencing proceedings for Pistorius on Tuesday.

His testimony about the effect his daughter’s murder had on him and his wife, June, caused their relatives and some people in the public gallery to cry.

Pistorius leaned forward and hid his face in his hands.  Steenkamp said he suffered a stroke. He told the court he listened to June crying at night and speaking to Reeva. He sat on his veranda at 02:00 or 03:00 most mornings, smoking.

‘Going mental’
He spoke of the anguish Reeva’s murder had caused the family and how he thought of her all the time. At Christmas or on her birthday they set a place at the table for her, where they placed her photo.

“She must have been in so much fear, pain. That is what I think of all the time. I visualise it. I can see it myself. At times I thought, with the pain Reeva went through, I didn’t know if I was going mental. I took my diabetes injection and shoved it into my arms and stomach to see if I could feel the same pain,” Steenkamp said, his voice trembling as he made stabbing motions towards himself.

The day began with Barry Roux, for Pistorius, calling Ebba Gudny Gudmundsdottir, from Iceland, to testify. She told the court how Pistorius befriended her family after her son was born without legs. At the Paralympic games in Manchester, he gave the boy his gold medal and told him “this is for you, champ”, which she said was a “very lovely gesture”.

The next witness for the defence was Pastor Marius Nel, of 3C Ministries, a Centurion-based church. Nel told the court several schools had asked for help in sports and fitness training.

Pistorius had expressed an interest and was excited about it, as were the schools’ principals and the church members.

Oscar ordered nurse to ‘get out’ of his cell, court hears
The day’s final witness was Kgosi Mampuru prison’s assistant health manager and professional nurse Charlotte Mashabane. She testified how Pistorius became angry and ordered her out of his cell when she came to see him during her rounds on the morning of March 1, 2015.

“He became angry. He just shouted that I’m disturbing him and I must get out because he’s still sleeping. I listened to him and he covered himself with the sheet. He said ‘get out, get out’,” Kgosi Mampuru’s assistant health manager and professional nurse Charlotte Mashobane said.

She said he was surprised by his behaviour as he had never acted like this before.

Mashabane was testifying in aggravation of sentencing for Pistorius after he was convicted of killing Reeva Steenkamp.

On the second occasion, Pistorius came into the nurses’ duty room demanding feedback on a supplement and a “device” he had asked to have. Mashabane said the request had to go through various offices for security clearance and could not be approved in two days. 

“He said you must give me this report. I need my feedback. I explained to him that the procedure for approval won’t take two days. He stated ‘no, don’t play these tactics’. [He] had a notebook and banged the table,” Mashabane said. She said he was shaking with anger. 

Pistorius sat in the dock looking at her. At one point he rested his elbow on the backrest of his bench and used his hand to shield his eyes. 

The court heard on Monday that during a search of his cell, 28 tablets of Molipaxin and 14 of Cipralex, both antidepressants, were found in his cell. Nel asked her whether inmates were allowed to have medication in their cells and self-medicate. Mashabane said no. 

Matters took a lighter turn when Barry Roux, for Pistorius, started his cross-examination. He asked her what the purpose of her testimony was. “I’m not coming to tell that he’s a violent [person],” she said. “So I can exclude that. He’s not a violent person?” Roux asked her, waving his arm. Mashabane, who was standing in the witness box, was looking down and paging through the complaints register of the section of the prison. 

Suddenly she shot back: “He is actually. Sometimes he can [be]”, to laughter from the gallery.

Gerrie Nel persuaded Judge Thokozile Masipa to adjourn an hour early as he wanted to call his last witness, but did not want to risk having to keep them overnight.

He said the evidence would be emotional and could take 20 minutes, or 2 hours. He did not say who it was. Roux objected, saying Nel was wasting time and that he was resorting to “tactics”.