Sunday 18 March 2018

June Steenkamp reads speech her daughter planned to give on the day she was killed: 'Go home and tell your parents they are appreciated'

Reeva Steenkamp
Reeva Steenkamp
June Steenkamp delivers a lecture to students at Saint Dominic's school in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (AP)
Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp at an event two weeks before he shot and killed her

Reeva Steenkamp's mother has delivered the speech her daughter had planned to give at a South African school on the day she was killed by Oscar Pistorius.

June Steenkamp went back to Reeva's old high school in their home town of Port Elizabeth to talk to students.

She said: "I will now carry on where she left off," before reading excerpts of the speech Reeva Steenkamp planned to give at a Johannesburg school on Valentine's Day 2013.

Pistorius fatally shot his girlfriend in the early hours of that day. The Olympic athlete was released from jail on Monday and moved to house arrest after serving a year of his five-year manslaughter sentence.

Responding to students' questions, June Steenkamp said of Pistorius: "I've got no feelings of revenge."

The speech touched on domestic abuse, family relationships, and even Reeva Steenkamp's struggles to break into the modelling industry because she was not very tall.

"I don't want to hurt him," she said. "He is already a disabled person. I did not want him to be thrown into jail and suffering because I don't wish suffering on anyone and that's not going to bring Reeva back.

"But in my heart, I don't want revenge towards him. I am past that."

Pistorius, the world-famous runner and multiple Paralympic champion, was acquitted of murder for the shooting death and instead found guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide - an unintentional but still unlawful killing comparable to manslaughter.

He was sentenced to five years in prison and was released this week to go under house arrest after serving a year in jail, in line with South African law.

The Steenkamp family have previously said they do not think the sentence was stern enough. Pistorius, 28, could be sent back to prison for a minimum of 15 years if prosecutors still seeking a murder conviction against him succeed in an appeal to South Africa's Supreme Court next month.

June Steenkamp made the speech to launch a foundation named after her daughter that aims to help women and children who are victims of domestic abuse.

Wearing a black jacket, she said the hurt of losing her daughter "never goes away", but she smiled briefly as she repeated the words Reeva wrote for the planned Valentine's Day talk to youngsters more than two years ago:

"I hope that you all had an amazing Valentine's Day and you were spoiled with love and roses and chocolates," she said, reading out her daughter's words. "Go home and tell your parents, your siblings and your neighbours that they are appreciated and you will go to bed with a happy heart and an open mind for the future."

Press Association

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