Parents of Reeva Steenkamp ‘shocked’ at Oscar Pistorius verdict

Bail extended after South African athlete found guilty of girlfriend’s manslaughter

The parents of Reeva Steenkamp, whose manslaughter athlete Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of today, said they were "shocked" and "disappointed" after the court verdict.

Pistorius’s bail was extended today after he was convicted of culpable homicide (manslaughter), having escaped the more serious charge of murder for the killing of his girlfriend.

The Olympic and Paralympic track star could face a lengthy prison term when he is sentenced on October 13th.

Pistorius always admitted killing his 29-year-old girlfriend on Valentine’s Day in 2013. But the Olympic and Paralympic sprinter insisted it was a tragic accident.


Speaking to ITV News after the verdict, June and Barry Steenkamp said they did not “fully” believe the account from Pistorius of what happened on the night their daughter was killed.

Asked how they felt as the ruling was delivered, Mrs Steenkamp said: “We were shocked. Shocked. Disappointed. You know your heart drops because you just want the truth. It’s going in the wrong direction, that’s how you feel.”

Mr Steenkamp said: “It’s a funny thing to say or a thing a person shouldn’t say, to see a man there with the status that he had, in the world, to see somebody standing there so pathetic.

“You actually feel deep down, you know, he could have been prevented. You actually feel sorry for him. I understand that he is sorry he’s done it and this and that. “As I said, there is still something missing. I think there was more to the whole story, you know, coming up to the actual shooting, the killing.” He added: “I only wish that the true, true story will come out one day.” Mrs Steenkamp said she could not look at Pistorius inside the courtroom after the verdict as he and his supporters were “jubilant”.

Pistorius’s counsel Barry Roux said his client had complied with previous bail conditions and that there was no reason to remand him into custody ahead of sentencing. He had spent the last 18 months living with his uncle in Pretoria, he said.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said he disagreed, opposing bail due to the serious nature of the offence and that a custodial sentence was “probable”. He also cited a recent nightclub fracas involving Pistorius and suggestions that the athlete had previously been suicidal. Mr Roux said the defence disputed the facts of the nightclub incident, and dismissed any suicidal thoughts his client may have.

The 27-year-old double amputee, who became one of the biggest names in world athletics, stood impassively in the dock, his hands folded in front of him, as Judge Thokozila Masipa delivered her manslaughter verdict. Unlike many other times during the trial that began in March he showed no emotion as he stood. He was hugged by relatives when the judge ordered a recess soon after announcing her verdicts.

Pistorius was also cleared of two unrelated firearms charges - illegal possession of ammunition, and firing a pistol out of the sun-roof of a car - but was convicted of firing a pistol under the table of a packed Johannesburg restaurant.

Ms Steenkamp’s father Barry leaned forward in his seat when the manslaughter verdict was read. Her mother, June, showed no reaction. Members of Pistorius’s family embraced the athlete as Judge Masipa called for a short adjournment.

Judge Masipa based her culpable homicide decision on the fact that Pistorius had acted unreasonably and negligently when he fired four shots from a 9mm pistol into a toilet door in his luxury Pretoria home, killing Steenkamp, who was behind it, almost instantly.

Culpable homicide, South Africa’s equivalent to manslaughter,carries up to 15 years in prison. Judge Masipa told the hushed courtroom: “Having regard to the totality of this evidence in this matter, the unanimous decision of this court is the following: on count one, murder ... the accused found not guilty and is discharged. “Instead he is found guilty of culpable homicide.”

The state had argued that Pistorius was deliberately trying to kill Steenkamp, a law graduate and model, after a row in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year, but Judge Masipa ruled that prosecutors had failed to prove the allegations.

Pistorius said he had fired in the mistaken belief that an intruder had broken into his bathroom and was hiding in the toilet cubicle.

The judge also announced that Darren Fresco, who Pistorius blamed for passing him a loaded gun in the packed restaurant, would not be prosecuted for his part in the incident.

Pistorius made no comment as he left the court building and was bundled into a waiting car. He was accompanied by several security officers, as hordes of journalists and members of the public clutching camera phones tried to catch a glimpse of the athlete.

Nathi Mncube, for the National Prosecuting Authority, said the body was “disappointed” Pistorius was convicted of only two charges.

Speaking outside the court he said: “We respect the judgment that has been delivered. “We believed in this instance there was enough evidence to secure a conviction under pre-meditated murder.

“Of course we are disappointed. We are disappointed we did not secure a conviction under pre-meditated murder and also there was acquittal on the other two (gun) charges.

“The matter has not been concluded yet, we are still waiting for a sentence to be imposed.” He said it was too early to decide whether prosecutors would launch any appeal.

Cleared of Murder

Pistorius was yesterday cleared of all murder charges over the death of his girlfriend, but judge Thokozile Masipa said his decision to shoot repeatedly into the toilet cubicle at his house was negligent.

After a morning of high drama at the North Gauteng high court in which the judge made a number of pronouncements that raised eyebrows among South Africa’s legal professionals, she adjourned proceedings after speaking for several minutes on negligence.

Under strain

Pistorius was visibly under strain and cried a number of times as Ms Masipa read out the reasoning behind her verdict, but he showed signs of relief after she rejected the premeditated murder and murder charges because the evidence against him was “purely circumstantial”.

Little sympathy

In general, it appeared there was little sympathy for South Africa’s fallen hero.

Michael Natshengu (36) and Tshepo Letswalo (27) from Pretoria said they had been following the case on and off over the past few months, but their interest had increased because they were keen to see how a verdict was delivered in a high-profile case like this.

"We have a lot of problems with violence against women in South Africa and a strong message needs to be sent out that women should be protected, not harmed," he said.

A 30-strong contingent of the African National Women’s League made their presence felt too throughout the day, singing songs and holding placards that read: “You kill a woman; you kill a nation”.

Additional reporting PA/Reuters