A few days have passed but still the world is reeling under the news that the Olympic hero, Oscar Pistorius, shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. But what really happened on that fateful night?
As it happens in cases of this nature, many people seem to want to have a part in the tragedy playing out in front of their eyes. Therefore, we will not know the absolute truth about the events until they are revealed by concrete evidence in the courtroom. Rumors have been flying and newspapers have published interviews with various ‘sources close to the couple’ or ‘sources close to the police investigation’. Finding your way through this maze of ‘evidence’ is almost impossible. We can but draw a few conclusions from all the facts that are already out there.
Hours before the shooting, Reeva Steenkamp sent out a tweet about Valentine’s Day.
“What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow???”
From what we know until now, there was no sign of forced entry and the story about an intruder has no foundation.
According to South African newspapers the police and security guards were called to his house about two hours before the shooting, after neighbours heard the couple argue. One neighbor reports to have heard screams that sounded like a man in pain.
Another resident at the estate where Pistorius lived, said Steenkamp’s body was found in the bathroom. She apparently was shot four times. She was wounded in the head, chest, pelvis and hand. Other sources now said that her body was found downstairs in the entrance hall of the accused athlete’s house. According to these sources he first tried to stop the bleeding while in the bathroom, leaving bloodied towels and pillowcases behind. He then carried her downstairs and lay her down in the entrance hall, where he did CPR. Who can we believe? A neighbour and friend of Oscar Pistorius reportedly told reporters the athlete called her early on Valentine’s Day morning, frantically asking her to come to the house. According to a South African newspaper the woman, who was not identified, lived in the same Silver Woods complex in Pretoria with her parents and was said to be a lawyer. She said Pistorius was frantic on the phone and said something had gone horribly wrong and that there had been a shooting. She rushed over and as she opened the door to his home, she saw Pistorius carrying Reeva Steenkamp’s blood-soaked body down the stairs. He put Steenkamp’s body between them on the floor and they tried to stop the bleeding. The woman said they couldn’t do anything to save Steenkamp’s life. The model was pronounced dead by paramedics when they arrived on the scene. She also said she tried to console Pistorius, who kept telling her it was a mistake and that he hadn’t meant to do it. He told her he thought Steenkamp was an intruder. In contradiction to this woman’s story, a friend of Pistorius, Justin Divaris, told the Mirror Online that Pistorius had called him first after the shooting. Divaris said that Pistorius was shocked at his actions and was barely making sense over the phone. Who is telling the truth? Who did Pistorius really call and what happened after these phone calls?
A paper reported Pistorius told police he was woken up by noises that seemed to come from the bathroom. He reached for the pistol at his bedside and fired the fatal shots through the bathroom door.
By Sunday the investigation centred on a bloodied cricket bat found in the bedroom. Police were investigating three possibilities. In one scenario the cricket bat was used by Steenkamp to defend herself and in the other Pistorius used it to break down the bathroom door to get access to where Steenkamp was hiding. According to other sources Steenkamp’s skull had been bashed in, which indicates that he used the bat on her. The truth about the bloodied bat will hopefully be revealed during trial.
According to police sources, the first shot was fired in the bedroom and that the other three were fired at her through the bathroom door. It is said that he first shot her in the hip. She fled to the bathroom where she hid behind the door. He then fired three shots through the door hitting her in the head, the hand and the pelvis.
The news about the model’s death started a media feeding frenzy. Across the globe, television and newspaper articles are full of the names of Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp. It got so bad that the media had to be ordered to leave the estate where the incident happened.
Conflicting stories have appeared in various newspapers and the South African Police as well as the National Prosecuting Authority are up in arms about stories quoting police sources.
SA police have denied leaking critical information about the Oscar Pistorius murder case which appeared in two Sunday newspapers. Lieutenant colonel Katlego Mogale told Sapa:
I don’t know where people got these stories. Currently we haven’t issued a statement or spoken to anyone.
On Sunday, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson, Medupe Simasiku, called for the source of the reports to the media, to be identified. He said that the NPA had been handed an incomplete police docket on the case on Friday and that police had told the NPA the docket was incomplete, as the investigation was still ongoing. Therefore, the NPA did not have any sort of information like that published in some newspapers.
On a day one would have expected newspapers to lead with the story of the South African president, Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address, only one paper had the president’s speech as their lead story. Even on television, South African’s preferred to watch the news about the model’s death over their president’s speech. As Zuma started his speech at 19:00 on Thursday, a 24-hour news channel featured a special report on the Pistorius saga, referring viewers to another channel if they wanted to follow the president’s speech.
On Friday, Pistorius was taken to the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court for the start of his bail hearing. Droves of reporters were waiting for him outside the courtroom. The magistrate said that no cameras or recording equipment were to be used in the courtroom while court for the bail hearing was in session.
This did not stop people from taking pictures of a crying Pistorius and tweeting from the courtroom. If one wanted to, you could follow a blow-by-blow account of the court proceedings on Twitter. Onlookers in the courtroom quickly tweeted that Oscar Pistorius broke down in tears as he waited for court proceedings to start on Friday.
@SmithInAfrica: Pistorius was sobbing, shaking, almost bending over double in the dock. @barrybateman: Pistorius is sobbing uncontrollably in the dock. His father places his hand on his back. His jaw is tightly clenched. Court officials asked “non-essential” people to leave, but everybody refused to go. A media list was held at the door to control access for the queue of journalists. Still, nothing controlled the stream of tweets coming from the courtroom. Tweets like these make you wonder how far people will
go to invade the privacy of the parties involved. Do people feel a sense of ownership, seeing that the parties involved are well-known? What influence will this have on the eventual outcome of this whole matter? The State said on Friday it will argue a case of pre-meditated murder against Oscar Pistorius for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. “Is the State’s argument pre-meditated murder?” Magistrate Desmond Nair asked. “Yes,” said prosecutor advocate Gerrie Nel. While the legal team discussed how matters would proceed, Pistorius cried uncontrollably. He was comforted by his father, who sat behind him in the public gallery. His brother and sister, supported by close friends, were also there to support him. Pistorius spent the weekend in jail, since he was remanded to police custody until the bail hearing, which is scheduled to continue on Tuesday. On the same day, a memorial service for Reeva Steenkamp will be held in her home town of Port Elizabeth. Steenkamp’s body has already been flown back and she will be cremated in a private service. Before Pistorius became a star athlete, he dated Vicky Miles, who had known him since his school days. A photo of them in 2006 shows Miles on his lap, both of them smiling. They split up in 2008 and re-united a while later. They broke up again in early 2012, after which Pistorius started dating Russian supermodel Anastassia Khozissova. During the same time, he was reported to be dating Cape Town marketing student Samantha Taylor. She and Oscar were filmed on the beaches of the Seychelles for a South African television show in September 2012. Reports of these former girlfriends having been abused by Pistorius while dating him, are now surfacing across international media. One of the latest rumours to surface over the weekend, was that the couple were fighting over a text message she had received for Valentine’s Day. It was reported that the text was sent by Springbok rugby player Francois Hougaard, who was a close friend of the couple. He had dated Reeva before she started going out with Oscar. Hougaard pulled out of a game for the Vodacom Bulls on Friday. He released a statement saying he was not in any way involved with the shooting. Many of Pistorius’s friends and people involved with him can hardly believe what happened. Former Italian pole-vaulter, Andrea Giannini, who coached him from 2009 to 2011, had the following to say:
It’s incredible for anyone involved with Oscar, especially his family. I knew Oscar well. I’m hoping it was just a tragic accident. He’s a marvelous person, a really sweet and calm guy. It seemed like this was a calm time for him. He seemed really happy and well-balanced.
A friend of the couple, actress Vanessa Haywood, told SAfm in an interview:
I’ve known Oscar for many years and I knew Reeva for a long time as well. Not very well, I just worked with her on a few occasions and as a model a few times. I’m obviously absolutely shocked. Completely shocked and speechless. It’s very difficult to form an opinion. I’ve only ever known Oscar to be an incredibly kind and gentle and friendly soul. My condolences go out to Reeva’s family. I honestly don’t know what to think or say. It’s just absolutely dumb-founding. I cannot believe it.
Asked what their other friends were saying, she replied:
Pretty much the same thing. Within the sporting, film and model industry it’s actually quite a tight-knit community. We all know one another. Everybody has been saying pretty much the same thing. That Reeva was an amazing woman, sweet and kind, as was Oscar. The relationship as far as everybody knew was fine, you know. They were happy. Amongst our friends, everybody is unbelievably shocked.
Asked if she knew about his love for guns, as reported on international as well as South African media, she said:
I knew that about him. I think it was more of a hobby than anything else. He had a gun for protection as well. I mean, South Africa isn’t the safest place in the world. But I didn’t know he slept with a gun next to his bed.
The SABC screened a reality TV show featuring Reeva Steenkamp, two days after she was killed. The show’s executive producer, Samantha Moon, said:
They (the family) want it on. This is how they want to remember her. This is what she would have wanted.
The SABC said the show, where she was seen laughing and smiling with other contestants and being interviewed by presenters, also acted as a tribute to her. Her family said they did not oppose the program being aired because Reeva wanted people to see it and a short tribute to her was shown before the episode. All of this makes one wonder. How far will papers go to sell their stories? How far will television stations go to improve their ratings? How far will people go to shine in the light of another’s notoriety?]]>