Friday 23 March 2018

Pistorius 'must pay for murder of my daughter'

Aisling Laing Pretoria

THE father of Reeva Steenkamp has spoken in court for the first time about the "devastation" his daughter's death has visited on his family and his belief that Oscar Pistorius "must pay" for murdering her.

Barry Steenkamp trembled and wept as he described how he still thought about his daughter "morning, noon, night" and sat on his porch in the small hours looking at pictures of her and smoking.

The frail 73-year-old, who suffered a series of strokes after the model and law graduate's death and stayed away from the trial on his doctor's advice, said that he had "changed completely" since she was killed.

"You know, people say be patient, two years, three years and you start feeling a bit better about the whole thing; but every day of my life is the same," he told Judge Thokozile Masipa, sitting at Pretoria High Court on the second day of the former Paralympian athlete's murder sentencing.

"I talk to her. She is with me all the time. I wouldn't say I've become a recluse but I can't really mix with people any more.

"It's devastated us. I had a stroke. I wouldn't wish it on another human being."

He jabbed at his arms and stomach as he described how he had used his diabetes needle "to see if I could feel the same amount of pain" as his daughter, who was 29 when Pistorius shot her through a locked lavatory door at his Pretoria home.

"What she must have gone through, she must have been in so much fear and pain. I think about that all the time. It must have been awful," he sobbed.

At one point he stared straight at the athlete as he confirmed that "one day, not now" he would like to talk to him about what he did. Pistorius sat through most of the testimony with his head in his hands.

Mr Steenkamp, a former racehorse trainer, was at work when his wife rang to break the news of their daughter's death on St Valentine's Day 2013.

"I couldn't really understand what she was so upset about, screaming, shouting," he said.

"At first I thought one of our animals had most probably gotten killed. She said 'come home immediately, come home'.

"I dropped everything and on my way home I tried to fathom out what she had been trying to tell me and I realised that she mentioned Reeva. That's when I started panicking. I realised more and more that Reeva had been killed."

He said he believed Pistorius had shot his daughter deliberately "after an argument" and said his family's "forgiveness" of the Paralympian did not mean he should not be jailed.

"You must understand by forgiving like that it still does not exonerate you from the crime you have committed. He must understand he still has to pay for that," Mr Steenkamp said.

"I don't want to say he must go down for the maximum but he has to pay."

Judge Masipa originally accepted Pistorius's account that he believed Steenkamp was a burglar, convicting him of manslaughter.

In December, South Africa's appeal court upheld the state's contention that it was murder.

Judge Masipa is expected to hand down sentence for the new charge on tomorrow. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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