The father of Reeva Steenkamp – the model and law graduate murdered by ‘blade runner’ Oscar Pistorius – told a sentencing hearing in South Africa today how his family’s life had been completely destroyed by the killing of his daughter in 2013.
In moving testimony streamed live around the world from a Pretoria court house, Barry Steenkamp told how he sits up late at night flicking through pictures of his beloved daughter on his phone.
“Ever since Reeva’s death I have changed completely,” he said in testimony this morning. “I wouldn’t say I have become a recluse but I can’t really mix with people anymore. I sit out on the verandah at 2 or 3 in the morning and drink my coffee and smoke my cigarettes."
Mr Steenkamp, 73, said that although he is ‘not really’ up on the latest technology, he has access to a Facebook account on his phone on which there are ‘a couple of hundred’ images of Reeva, “Which I go through every day.”
“Our lives have changed completely,” he said as he broke down in court, “I don’t wish that on any human being. It devasted us.”
Steenkamp told how he had suffered a stroke since the murder.
Steenkamp’s testimony today followed claims made on Pistorious's behalf in court yesterday that he is a ‘broken man’ who suffers insomnia, depression and anxiety, is traumatized by the sound of gunfire on television and should be in a hospital not a prison cell.
The claims were made by a psychologist testifying on his behalf, however prosecutors said Pistorius ‘only feels sorry for himself’ and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law for the killing of his girlfriend, model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp.
Reeva was shot to death on Valentine’s Day 2013, when Pistorius fired four shots through a bathroom door in his home.
Pistorious, a double amputee who won fame and fortune competing on carbon fibre prosthetics, reaching the semi-finals of the 400m sprint in the London Olympics of 2012, cut a miserable and subdued figure in court this morning on the second day of the hearing.
Yesterday, the Guardian reports, the court heard from Prof Jonathan Scholtz, a clinical psychologist who told the court, “I saw two Oscars... One was this super-Olympian, very successful, who seemed totally in control and even physically tall with his prostheses. Then there was the other [Oscar] without his prostheses who was a vulnerable, anxious man. More recently I saw a third Oscar that really has almost given up. His spirit seems broken. I believe he is quite ill. If he was my patient, I would admit him to hospital.”
However, in cross examination, Gerrie Nel, the state prosecutor, said Pistorius only, “felt sorry for himself”.
The Guardian reports that exchanges in court have shown for the first time that Pistorius accepts he murdered Reeva, quoting the following exchange:
Nel: Did Mr Pistorius indicate to you that he intentionally shot at the door knowing there was a person in the bathroom?
Scholtz: Yes …
Nel: That’s the first version of him intentionally shooting at the person that we’ve had in this court.
When Scholtz claimed Pistorius would be unable to testify in the hearing, saying, “ I don’t think he is able to be a witness in this trial: his condition is severe,” Nel retaliated by asking how Pistorius had been able to give an interview to Britain’s ITV, due to be broadcast next week.
In September 2014 Pistorius was found not guilty of murder but that was subsequently overturned and he now faces 15 years in prison for the murder of Reeva.
The hearing continues.