Friday 27 April 2018

Reeva Steenkamp's mum reveals courtroom agony

Model Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot to death by boyfriend Oscar Pistorius in the bathroom of his home
Model Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot to death by boyfriend Oscar Pistorius in the bathroom of his home
June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva Steenkamp, holds her head as South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius gives evidence during his trial at the high court in Pretoria yesterday.
Reeva Steenkamp's mother Jane is comforted by relative after a photo of her dead daughter was shown on screen during the trial of Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa
Oscar Pistorius arrives at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Oscar Pistorius walks towards the high court in Pretoria. (AP)
Oscar Pistorius heads to court accompanied by relatives. (AP)
Aimee Pistorius (2nd R), sister of South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius cries as he gives evidence during his trial at the high court in Pretoria
Gina Myers, Reeva Steenkamp’s best friend, listens to the testimony of Oscar Pistorius.
Oscar Pistorius, centre, accompanied by his relatives, walks towards the high court in Pretoria, South Africa yesterday
Oscar Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013 (AP)
Oscar Pistorius speaks with his sister Aimee Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius, leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, yesterday
Sister of Oscar Pistorius, Aimee Pistorius, second from right, cries as she listens as her brother testifies in court in Pretoria, South Africa, yesterday

Dominic Harris, Press Association

The mother of Reeva Steenkamp has said she does not care whether her daughter's killer Oscar Pistorius walks free from his murder trial - but admits she cannot take her eyes from him as he sits in the courtroom.

June Steenkamp spoke of her daily emotional turmoil as she listens to the final moments of her daughter's life being put under the spotlight in a South African court.

The Paralympic superstar has frequently wept and been sick during the more difficult moments of his trial, and Mrs Steenkamp said she watches his every move, wondering if his grief is real.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror she said does not care whether he is freed or jailed for murder, as neither outcome will bring her daughter back.

Yesterday Pistorius, 27, became distraught after the prosecutor demanded that he look at a photo of his dead girlfriend's bloody head wounds while giving evidence at his trial in Pretoria.

Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said it was time for the athlete to "take responsibility" for killing Ms Steenkamp, 29, who died after being shot by Pistorius in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year.

Mrs Steenkamp condemned Pistorius as having fallen from "hero to devil", and said she is determined to maintain her own composure and be strong for Reeva, despite harrowing images of her daughter's body being shown to the court.

She told the Mirror: "I look at Oscar the whole time, to see how he is coping, how he is behaving. I'm obsessed with looking at him, it's just instinctive, I can't explain it.

"I keep thinking, 'let's see how he's taking this'. He has been very dramatic, the vomiting and crying."

She added: "I think he's just about keeping himself together. I don't know whether he's acting. Most of the time he's on his cell phone or looking down at papers or writing notes."

Mrs Steenkamp said she and her husband Barry are tortured by their feelings of helplessness at the agony their daughter went through, saying it "haunts" her that they couldn't help her and that her death has "destroyed" their lives.

She said: "I imagine how she must have been in terror and pain and suffering, devastated by what was going on. I relive that scene in the bathroom and it's changed me so much, made me harder."

Mrs Steenkamp, who had never previously met Pistorius, told the Mirror she doesn't care if he is cleared or sent to prison as it won't bring back her daughter, but says "he has to stand up to what he's done and - if he has to - pay for it."

She said Pistorius has an "aggressive persona" and struts around looking "superior", but now "he's gone from hero to devil".

Mrs Steenkamp told the Mirror she cried after Pistorius apologised for killing her daughter, but only because it reminded her of Reeva's suffering and that she would never see her again.

She also said she had rejected efforts by his family to apologise and reach out to her.

Mrs Steenkamp previously criticised Pistorius for failing to acknowledge her on the first day of the trial, but said she didn't answer when he eventually spoke to her, other than to nod.

She believes her presence "unnerves" him, saying: "He must see me there in the court, he must feel my eyes boring into him, I think it makes a lot of difference.

"I do look at him too much, maybe. I like to see how he is reacting. I can see him very clearly, even without my glasses - he's the only one I can see, he's right in front of me."

Despite being "wiped out" by a particular photograph of her daughter that was shown to the court, Mrs Steenkamp said she is "compelled" to be there, and is determined to keep her emotions in check until she is alone.

She said: "I'm being strong for Reeva, I have to be there. It's hard for me to do it, but I'm representing my child."

Mrs Steenkamp's husband Barry has been kept away from the trial by ill-health, having suffered a stroke, but has vowed to join his wife in the courtroom.

Pistorius will face further difficult questions today as his cross-examination continues.

The athlete says he shot Ms Steenkamp by mistake, thinking she was a dangerous intruder behind the door in his bathroom about to come out and attack him.

Prosecutors say he killed her intentionally, and Pistorius faces a possible prison term of 25 years to life if convicted of premeditated murder.

Irish Independent

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