/ 4 July 2016

Oscar Pistorius trial: The six most dramatic moments

Oscar Pistorius Trial: The Six Most Dramatic Moments

It’s perhaps one of the few trials in South African history that’s had many people going, “enough already!”

Some will be hoping that the end of the Oscar trial is finally nigh, while others might see it as the end of an engrossing trial that confronted gender-based violence, celebrity, and a man who outshone his victim.

As the final judgement on Reeva Steenkamp’s death is heard, here are some of the most dramatic moments of a trial that’s hogged media coverage around the world.

1. When he walked on his stumps in court
With tears streaming down his face, Pistorius took off his prostheses in a Pretoria High Court appearance in June 2016, where his defence attorney, Barry Roux, sought to demonstrate how vulnerable the athlete is on his stumps. Videos went viral, and the images drew the ire of many who viewed it as a pity ploy.

2. Crime scene photos of Reeva Steenkamp get released
Steenkamp’s father gave permission for photos of his daughter’s body to be released, saying he wanted the world to know how she had suffered. It was a moment that had media editors rubbing their foreheads, as they agonised over whether or not to publish the photographs.

Meanwhile, people took to social media to blast media houses for publishing photos of black people who had been killed in atrocities, while refraining from publishing photos of Steenkamp’s body.

3. Playing killer
Featuring the paralympian running towards the camera, arm outstretched, hand tightly wound as if holding a gun, the leaked video chilled viewers at the time.

Recorded by a US production company hired by Pistorious’s lawyers, the video was filmed as part of the defence team’s strategy.

The verdict’s still out on how badly the leak affected his case.

4. Texts from the grave
“I’m scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me and how you react to me,” reads one Whatsapp message Steenkamp sent to Pistorious just over a year before her death.

Messages Pistorius and Steenkamp had exchanged were shown in court in the early days of the trial. Their release was one of the turning points in the trial, dividing public perception of Pistorius, who until that point, many had believed to be innocent.

5. It wasn’t murder
When Judge Thokozile Masipa cleared Pistorius of murder charges in September 2014, the nation hit back in outrage. The judge said that she did not believe Pistorious had acted with intent to kill Steenkamp, and instead found him guilty of manslaughter and culpable homicide. The prosecution applied for leave to appeal, and was granted it in December that year.

6. He’s a murderer
In December 2015, Judge Masipa’s ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), who said she had misread the law on dolus eventualis on which her initial ruling relied heavily.

The SCA found Pistorius guilty of murdering Steenkamp.

The question now, is how long will Pistorius spend behind bars?