The Bloody Valentine’s Day of Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius
Gunshots echoed into the air in a gated and secured compound in Pretoria, South Africa. Neighbors and security guards traced the artillery noise to the house of a famous athlete, a national hero. As they arrive at the celebrity’s home, they saw a man carrying a limp body going down the stairs, weeping and appear disturbed. The bloodied victim is a blonde woman, unknown if she is still breathing, but visible from where they’re standing is the crimson liquid that’s oozing out of her body. As the man reached the ground, he laid down her vegetable body on the floor and began to do rescue effort by pumping on her chest with the heels of his hand overlapped on top by the other hand. Witnesses, the neighbors and security guards, reported she was still breathing when they arrived.
Unable to get a sign of life, the man was just glad the Paramedics arrived and assumed resuscitation attempts but ended up pronouncing the woman dead.
It looks like a scene from a CSI episode or a novel. What just happened is a real life homicide story.
The Crime Scene
In the dawn of Valentine’s day, February 14, 2013, gun shots were heard in a gated and secured compound in Pretoria, South Africa. Security personnel and neighbors rushed to the source of the commotion and ended up at the home of Oscar Pistorius. Witnesses saw Pistorius carrying the bloodied body of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, while going down the stairs of his home. Steenkamp was apparently still breathing at that moment and then later, reports of resuscitation attempts were done by Pistorius and then by the Paramedics. The rescue efforts failed and eventually, she was pronounced dead.
Oscar Pistorius is an Olympic and Paralympic runner who competed in the London Olympics held in the Summer of 2012. He is also known as the “Blade Runner” because he wears a pair of prosthetic carbon fiber legs during races. He is a bilateral below knee amputee related to congenital malformation, in his case, he does not have bones from below the knee. He gained popularity by winning Gold medals in 100 meters, 200 m and 400 m in international Paralympic events. In 2008, he tried to get into the Beijing Olympics (able bodied) but did not qualify in his country’s qualifying time trial. In 2012 London Olympics, he finally qualified in the able bodied events and became the first double amputee to compete in 4×400 M relay and 400 M Olympic events but did not win any medal. He still competed in the London Paralympic events that same year and won gold in 400m and 4 x 400 m relay.
Reeva Steenkamp is Pistorius’ girlfriend. She is 29 years old, she has been a model since 14 years old. She studied Law and graduated in 2005. She is working as Paralegal and a model. Applied for the BAR in 2011 to be a qualified legal advocate. She also has appearances in TV either as a commercial model or celebrity contestant. She appeared in FHM magazine as a model and cover girl.
They’re basically South Africa’s equivalent of the hottest Hollywood couple. Rich, famous and lots of branded sponsors.
Oscar Pistorius was taken into custody by the police. According to him, the incident started around middle of the night, the room was pitch dark, when he went out to the balcony to check if there was a ladder left by workers which could be used by burglars or robbers. Reeva Steenkamp was supposedly in bed sleeping. When Pistorius went back inside the room, still pitch dark, he heard a noise in the toilet and thought there was a burglar so he went to get his 9mm pistol under the bed, same bed where he left Reeva sleeping, and then walked on his stumps ( per his account he wasn’t wearing his prosthesis) towards the toilet and started asking the alleged intruder with precaution but when he didnt get an answer, aiming blindly, he shot through the door four times. He then called out Reeva whom he thought was in bed sleeping but when he didn’t get any answer, he walked back towards the room and found out something terrible went wrong when he didn’t see his girlfriend in bed. He called out for help out the window, put on his prosthetic legs and rushed back to the little room where he unloaded four shots and when he can’t open it, he used a cricket bat to smash the door but didn’t open, he finally found the key that he used to open the door. He found Reeva slumped on the floor so he picked her up carried her downstairs so he could get more help from the neighbor. Reeva has gun shot wounds on her head, chest, hands and elbow according to report. And the gun that killed her belonged to Oscar Pistorius who claims he accidentally shot her when he mistook her for an intruder.
Pretoria police investigators didn’t believe Pistorius’ account of what happened. Instead, they believed that it was a premeditated murder. According to the police lead investigator, the crime scene alleged that Pistorius and Steenkamp had an argument and she locked herself in the bathroom. Pistorius was wearing his prosthetics when he approached the bathroom and shot through the door as evidenced by the height and angle of which the bullets entered the door and Steenkamp’s body. How a bloody cricket bat became a part of the crime scene was confirmed later when autopsy revealed a crushed skull of the victim. Material evidence such as the holster of the 9mm pistol was found under the left side of the bed where Steenkamp was supposed to be sleeping. Also the slippers and overnight bag of the victim were found on the left side of bed close to the sliding door of the balcony that Pistorius went to check and close. There are two little bottles identified by crime scene investigators as steroids. There were reports of neighbors seeing the lights on during or around the time the crime is happening , contradicting the account of Pistorius that it was pitch dark. Neighbors also reported that there were episodes of yelling and screaming the night and immediately before the incident and at one time police were called to the residence for incidents of ‘domestic’ nature. Pretoria’s Chief Magistrate has to decide whether to grant bail or deny due to premeditated murder charge based on the account of Pistorius and the evidence collected by the prosecutors.
The Appeal for Bail Bond
Due to the evidence collected by prosecutors, the Chief Magistrate of Pretoria denied bail bond until further hearing. The defense immediately went to work by questioning the integrity of the lead police investigator, Hilton Botha, who has a pending case of attempted homicide. Sometime in 2009, he shot at a minibus while drunk and was charged with 7 counts of attempted homicide. He was immediately replaced with the most senior police investigator of the city. Then the defense questioned the improper collection of evidence like not using shoe cover protector when a bullet slug was collected in the toilet, the door of the toilet was removed by the police before the defense team were able to examine it and the declared steroids bottles recovered turned out to be herb supplements or remedy. The questionable integrity of the lead investigator, improper collection and cataloging of forensic evidence and failing to wear a shoe protector was used by the defense to convince the Chief Magistrate that Pistorius’ accounts had more credibility than the prosecutors’. The Chief Magistrate granted Oscar Pistorius bail to the amount of 1 million rand or $113,000.
Is the World Watching?
The defense and prosecution go back to court on June 4, 2013 to continue to find the truth behind the Valentines Day death of Reeva Steenkamp. But who’s watching it? Will this be a South African affair or is the whole world curious, if not concerned about the verdict?
Updates Since Bail
After he was released on bail, Oscar Pistorius stayed with his Uncle in Pretoria but was not on house arrest, he was not allowed to go back to the scene of the crime, his Mansion in Pretoria, South Africa.
He held a private funeral ceremony for Reeva at his uncle’s home.
Major sponsors like Nike, Oakley, Thiery Muggler, M-Net Movies, a South African Pay TV Channel and Ossur, the Icelandic firm that makes the carbon fiber prosthetic blades he is wearing have reportedly suspended contracts with Oscar Pistorius.
March 28, 2013. A South African judge eased bail restrictions on Oscar Pistorius. He is now allowed to travel outside of Africa during international competitions.
April 4, 2013. Arnold Pistorius, uncle and host to Oscar Pistorius residence reported that his nephew has not gone back to official training because he is still on ‘traumatized state’.
April 14, 2013. Pistorius was seen arriving at a party at Kitchen Bar restaurant in the Fourways Design Quarter in Johannesburg, according to the report this is the first time he was seen out in public after his bail.
April 15, 2013. Bill Hader plays Oscar Pistorius in Saturday Night Live.
June 4, 2013. Trial for murder resumes.
Who’s watching? CNN, BBC, ESPN or international Violence Against Women Act/Movements?