||24 February 2013 07:00
Devi Sankaree Govender
|Show: ||Carte Blanche|
Oscar Pistorius, national hero, bionic man, dubbed the "blade runner" led an apparent perfect life. Despite being born without fibula and having his legs amputated at the age of 11 months, he was an inspiration even in childhood.
The charismatic Pistorius made his mark in history as the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal and later the first double-leg amputee to participate in the Olympics.
But the events that occurred at his home on Valentine's Day 2013 left a nation stunned and the world reeling - he had shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
Derek went to Reeva's family home in Port Elizabeth the day after her memorial service, where her heartbroken parents spoke frankly to us about their tragic loss.
June Steenkamp (Reeva's mother): "I had a phone call at half-past-seven that morning. And the man said to me, 'Is your... what's your name?' And I said, 'It's June.' And he said: 'Do you have a daughter?' And I said, 'Yes.' And he said: 'Reeva?' I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'There's been an accident and she's been shot.' And I said, 'All I want to know now is if she's alive or is she dead.' And the man said he was with the police, and he said, 'I'm sorry I have to tell you, but I don't want you to go out and read it in the papers... she's dead.'"
Reeva, who would've turned 30 this year, was first seen with Oscar at the SA Sports Awards in November 2012.
[SA Sports Awards, November 2012] Reeva Steenkamp: "Oscar is a very, very sexy boy. But he doesn't do it in an arrogant, obnoxious way... he does it in a very classy, understated [way]. He always has a good, simple suit on... Ja, he's a gentleman."
A law graduate and active supporter of women's rights, she was also set for her own brand of stardom, with a promising modelling career. She had taken part in a reality TV show, screened on SABC last Saturday, where South African audiences got a poignant glimpse of a life lost.
Derek Watts (Carte Blanche presenter): "You watched it?"
June: "I watched it... I had to."
Barry Steenkamp (Reeva's father): "I never watched the whole thing."
Derek: "Watched a bit?"
June: "...just to see her laughing again, you know, and alive."
Derek: "Barry, how do you cope?"
June: "He doesn't cope; he can't cope."
Grief stricken, her family and friends said goodbye to her at her memorial service in PE on Tuesday.
June: "She was the most amazing, amazing... The people stood up and spoke about her, the wonderful person that she was. That was truly, truly wonderful."
At the same time, at the Pretoria Magistrates Court, Oscar Pistorius was attempting to restore his reputation and stay out of jail.
Devi Sankaree Govender (Carte Blanche presenter): "It's Day 1 of Oscar Pistorius' bail application here at the Pretoria Magistrates Court. News crews from around the world have descended here, but so too have women's organisations. The one behind me is calling an end to abuse of women and children."
Woman 1: "Reeva justice... 'No' to abuse of women!"
The legal teams braced for battle as the State opposed bail by initially charging Oscar Pistorius with premeditated murder - a schedule 6 offence. Criminal attorney Renier Spies explains what the implications of this would have been for Oscar.
Renier Spies (Criminal attorney): "We in South Africa know murder and premeditated murder. The difference between the two is basically - the one planned, the other was not. For purposes of a bail hearing, if you are charged with a premeditated murder, it's just much more difficult to get bail."
The greater implication is that if Oscar were to be found guilty of premeditated murder, after his trial he could get life and would only be eligible for parole after 25 years. If found guilty of murder, the minimum sentence is 15 years.
Renier: "So, in both instances, for someone like Oscar, it is basically a death sentence."
Devi: "Over the last week-and-a-half many theories have been bandied about in the media across the world, as to what really happened on that night. Did Oscar shoot Reeva thinking that she was an intruder? Or did he shoot her in a fit of jealous rage? Questions are also being asked about the actual sequence of events."
Dr David Klatzow (Forensic scientist): "You would need to do proper, full forensic investigation of the body; the angles of the wounds... the nature of the wound to see if it was close, distant... Those are all vital."
Forensic investigator, David Klatzow says that these are just the early stages of the investigation.
Dr Klatzow: "The track through the body gives you an idea where the shooter was standing. A full post-mortem is absolutely mandatory and nothing should be taken for granted."
The NPA's Medupe Simasiku was able to shed some light on speculation surrounding the cricket bat, which the defence says Oscar used to bash down the toilet door when he realised Reeva may be inside.
Devi: "The cricket bat - was the cricket bat bloodied or not?"
Medupe Simasiku (Spokesperson: NPA): "As per information revealed in court yesterday, yes. But remember it is part of the investigation, it is part of the ballistics and forensic information that is still awaited to make sure that whatever we now give to court during trial will be fair and square."
Oscar's affidavit painted a picture of a vulnerable man paranoid about safety - very different to a raging, gun-crazy murderer, as some had portrayed him.
[Oscar's affidavit] During the early morning hours of 14 February 2013, I woke up, went onto the balcony to bring the fan in and closed the sliding doors...
Devi: "It's here at the exclusive Silver Woods estate in the east of Pretoria where it's alleged Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on that fateful night."
This [on screen] is probably the last footage ever taken of Reeva Steenkamp and was captured on the Silver Woods estate CCTV security cameras. Carte Blanche obtained this leaked video exclusively. Here we see Reeva arriving just before 6pm on the evening of the 13th of February, and Oscar arriving 10 minutes later. What happened after this only Oscar knows...
Based on the plans of Oscar's house, we created a 3D graphic representation of the location of the crime scene. When the police arrived at his home in the early hours of February the 14th , this is what they found in the bathroom: two cell phones and Oscar's gun on the bathroom mat, as well as a cricket bat by the basin. The toilet door was bashed open.
This is Oscar's version of events:
At around 3am he got up to close a balcony door and the blinds, leaving Reeva in bed, and the room in darkness. After closing the door, he heard a noise from the bathroom, grabbed his gun from the left side of his bed and, walking on his stumps, made his way to the bathroom, shouting a warning to the alleged intruder, then told Reeva to call the police. In the bathroom, he saw an open window and assumed the intruder was hiding in the toilet, which has a separate door. He heard movements inside the toilet and opened fire. He then moved backwards out of the bathroom, still keeping his eye on the entrance. When he reached the bedroom he realised Reeva wasn't in bed and rushed back to the bathroom, calling her name. He tried to open the toilet door and couldn't. He went back to the bedroom, opened the balcony door again and shouted for help. Then he put on his prosthetic legs and tried to kick down the toilet door. At this point he got the cricket bat and broke into the toilet, where he found Reeva slumped over the toilet seat still alive.
Renier: "His case is: I thought I was in danger, I thought that Reeva was in danger, and in defence of myself and Reeva I shot at a possible intruder and/or intruders, thereby killing by mistake the love of my life."
Devi: "Is it okay for me to suspect that there is somebody in my bathroom and shoot at them through the bathroom door?"
Renier: "No, it's not okay. In my opinion it doesn't mean that because I'm acting in
self-defence I can take a cannon to a fist fight to summarily fire, without first establishing for fact, is overstepping the boundaries of private defence."
Oscar says that soon after he shot Reeva he called the emergency services. And from the surveillance footage we obtained, we clearly see [on screen] that Netcare arrives at 3:42am, followed shortly thereafter by several police cars around 4am.
Now, this is the State's version of events.
Renier: "The State's case is he shot Reeva in a fit of rage, thereby murdering her."
The State alleges that Pistorius was not on his stumps, but had put on his prosthetic legs, which indicates premeditation, and that he had followed Reeva into the bathroom. This means that Pistorius would have had to be much closer to the toilet door - 1.5 metres away - with his back to the basins to match the trajectory of the bullets. The forensic investigation will look at a lot more than just the ballistic evidence.
Dr Klatzow: "If somebody is shot, as the bullet exits there will be a spray of brain or tissue or blood, which will give an imprint on whatever it strikes. You will be able to see that and interpret that. All of those things are capable of being interpreted to build up a three dimensional picture of what actually happened there."
What seems consistent in both versions is that Reeva was in the toilet at the time of the shooting. Her injuries showed that she was hit on the right side of her head above the ear, on her right elbow, which broke her arm, and on the right side of her hip. The autopsy revealed that her bladder was empty.
On Day 2 of the bail application, the State's case seemed to fall apart as the investigating officer, Hilton Botha, crumbled under cross-examination and conceded that there was nothing at the scene to negate the defence's version of events. He also admitted that he hadn't worn foot covers on his shoes.
Renier: "The investigating officer concedes that he contaminated the scene. The mere fact that there is forensic evidence, which was gathered by the State, does not guarantee its admissibility or its reliability."
Another embarrassing revelation was that Oscar's forensic team, and not the State's, had found a spent bullet in the toilet bowl. And although police said Oscar had not made calls to emergency services, based on his phone records, it was later revealed that they hadn't checked all his phones. The NPA wasn't impressed with these developments.
Medupe: "It's a challenge and we believe that, in any system, challenges will come. And, as they come, definitely, we will not let them influence anything of this process."
On Day 3 of the hearing, investigating officer Hilton Botha was removed from the case. It had emerged that he faced unrelated criminal charges - seven counts of attempted murder in connection with an alleged shooting at a taxi in 2011. The Pistorius case has now been assigned to Lieutenant General Vinesh Moonoo and Gauteng Commissioner Mzwandile Petros.
Medupe: "We will have to make sure that we prove our case beyond reasonable doubt and I believe it's actually kind of... very early to say we are failing. We are not failing; we are confident in what we're doing."
On Friday afternoon, Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair ruled that Oscar Pistorius would be granted bail of a million rand.
Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair: "I have come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail."
His trial is set for the 4th of June.
Barry: "It's only Oscar, Reeva that know the true story. And all I want, whether it will help me or it won't, he must just come out with the honest truth."
June: "You can't come to terms with this... this is going to be forever."
Barry [emotional]: "I'd like to thank the whole world for everything, and the feelings they've given to us."
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:While every attempt has been made to ensure this transcript or summary is accurate, Carte Blanche or its agents cannot be held liable for any claims arising out of inaccuracies caused by human error or electronic fault. This transcript was typed from a transcription recording unit and not from an original script, so due to the possibility of mishearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, errors cannot be ruled out.