News Courts

Friday 19 September 2014

Steenkamp's mum tries to look Oscar 'in the eye'

Tom Peck

Published 04/03/2014 | 02:30

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Reeva Steenkamp's mother June came to the North Gauteng High Court to "really look in the eye" the man she has never met; the man who shot and killed her daughter.

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But Oscar Pistorius afforded her no such opportunity, when he made his entrance at around 09.40am local time, only briefly glancing at his own family: sister Aimee, brother Carl and uncle Arnold.

The Steenkamps and the Pistoriuses sat just a couple of metres from one another in one long row, behind the dock in which the defendant sat alone, and in front of five packed benches of reporters.

The press have been gathering all week in a temporary tented city opposite the courthouse and the first journalists arrived at 6am on Monday morning to start queueing for the best seats.

They would have quite a wait on their hands. The most eagerly awaited day in South African legal history didn't get started until 11.30am, an hour and a half late. The Afrikaans interpreter who was required to translate for one of the state's witnesses had only discovered that morning that the case she was expected to work on was the Pistorius case, and was suddenly "overwhelmed" and "burst into floods of tears".

Conveniently, this delay ran concurrently with the arrival of the famously eccentric "Anna Marie", this time wearing a lawyer's gown, a lady already well known to these proceedings who claims her surname has been "stolen".

She has previously insisted Oscar Pistorius's brain be examined, that she is the sister of the surgeon who amputated his legs as a baby and that she is a friend of his now deceased mother. She was led away, demanding to see the judge.

FLUENT

To the terrified interpreter's convenience, in any event, Dr Michelle Burger, a professor at the University of Pretoria, appeared to be fluent in English, regularly helping the interpreter along, until she gave up and just started answering in English anyway.

Her testimony, that stood in marked contrast to Oscar Pistorius's version of events, had June Steenkamp (67) whispering to her sister: "Why would she lie? Why would she lie?"

Oscar Pistorius, meanwhile, sat on a little yellow cushion he had brought himself, and made pages and pages of notes in an A4 pad.

In all the long hours they sat by one another, no eye contact was spotted being made between any of the Steenkamps and the Pistoriuses. (© Independent News Service)

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