The mother of Reeva Steenkamp has spoken of her personal "hell" during the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius, who shot and killed her daughter on Valentine’s Day last year.
Ms Steenkamp said she has become “obsessed” with watching the athlete as she tries to deduce whether the visible distress of the man she says has gone from a “hero” to “devil” is genuine or an act.
“I'm obsessed with looking at him, it's just instinctive, I can't explain it,” she said. “I keep thinking: 'Let me see how he's taking this.'”
The 67-year-old, who had never met Pistorius before the trial, has sat for weeks and watched as the prosecution attempts to determine whether the athlete shot his model girlfriend four times through a locked bathroom door deliberately or because he mistook her for an intruder.
An emotional Pistorius has been seen shaking, vomiting and crying uncontrollably in court, while Ms Steenkamp has sat listening to harrowing details from the night her daughter died.
“He has been very dramatic, the vomiting and crying,” Ms Steenkamp said. “I think he's just about keeping himself together. I don't know whether he's acting.”
She told The Mirror how difficult it has been to attend the trial and “face up to what is going on” after her “wonderful, beautiful" daughter was killed.
In pictures: June Steenkamp's 'court hell'
In pictures: June Steenkamp's 'court hell'
1/20 June Steenkamp in court
June Steenkamp listens to the testimony of Oscar Pistorius during his ongoing murder trial in Pretoria
2/20 June Steenkamp in court
June Steenkamp looks on during the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius at the high court in Pretoria
3/20 June Steenkamp in court
June Steenkamp (2nd L), Reeva Steenkamp's mother listens to Oscar Pistorius' testimony in the Pretoria High Court in Pretoria
4/20 June Steenkamp in court
June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva, is comforted by unidentified relative after her dead daughter's picture was shown on screen during the trial of Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
5/20 June Steenkamp in court
June Steenkamp hides her face as she listens to Oscar Pistorius' testimony in the Pretoria High Court
6/20 June Steenkamp in court
June Steenkamp, mother of the late Reeva Steenkamp listens to evidence by a pathologist during the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius in court in Pretoria
7/20 June Steenkamp in court
June Steenkamp attends the trial on Souh African paralympian Oscar Pistorius before his murder trial was postponed at the high court in Pretoria
8/20 Gina Myers in court
Gina Myers, Reeva Steenkamp's best friend, is overcome with emotion as she listens to Oscar Pistorius' testimony in the Pretoria High Court
9/20 Relatives of Reeva Steenkamp in court
Relatives and friends of Reeva Steenkamp, Gina Meyers (C) and her mother Desiree (R) attend a hearing of Oscar Pistorius on the sixth day of his trial
10/20 June Steenkamp in court
Reeva Steenkamp's mother looks on inside the Pretoria High Court
11/20 June Steenkamp in court
June Steenkamp (L), mother of the murdered Reeva Steenkamp, sits in court ahead of the trial of Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
12/20 June Steenkamp in court
June Steenkamp reacts as she awaits start of the first day of proceedings in court
13/20 June Steenkamp arrives in court
June Steenkamp (C), the mother of Reeva Steenkamp, arrives at North Gauteng High Court for the trial of Oscar Pistorius in Pretoria
14/20 June Steenkamp arrives in court
June Steenkamp (R), the mother of Reeva Steenkamp, arrives at North Gauteng High Court for the trial of Oscar Pistorius in Pretoria
15/20 Daily News front page day after the shooting
Oscar Pistorius was arrested in South Africa in the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp
16/20 Reeva Steenkamp
Reeva Steenkamp in a publicity shot for Tropika Island of Treasure
17/20 Reeva Steenkamp
Reeva Steenkamp cooks
18/20 Reeva Steenkamp
The model was shot four times by Oscar Pistorius
19/20 Reeva Steenkamp
Reeva Steenkamp, girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius
20/20 Reeva Steenkamp
Reeva Steenkamp who was shot dead on the Valentine's Day 2013
“It’s very traumatic when certain things come up. This is my child – and I must listen to the graphic detail.
“I look at Oscar the whole time, to see how he is coping, how he is behaving. I don't know the man. All I know is what he's done. He must see me there in the court, he must feel my eyes boring into him, I think it makes a lot of difference.”
Ms Steenkamp said she has dismissed a note sent by Pistorius’ family describing how “sorry” they are for her loss and extending offers of support, saying “it won’t bring my daughter back.” The public apology from the athlete when he took the stand for the first time this week also left her “unmoved” and she had been prepared for it by her lawyers.
Ms Steenkamp, who said she has been trying not to break down in court, described the pain she felt from witnessing one particular picture during the trial that will stay with her “until the day I die, I promise you.”
“I don’t want to be crying in public. I’m a private person. I like to keep my feelings to myself,” 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.
“I keep it all in and when I get back to the hotel it all comes out and I break down.”
Ms Steenkamp insisted: “I don’t care what happens to Oscar, I don’t even care if he goes free.
”All I know is that he has to stand up to what he’s done and – if he has to – pay for it.”
Pistorius, 27, claims he mistook the sound of his girlfriend in his locked toilet cubicle for a potentially volatile intruder, and fired four shots through the door.
Prosecutors argue he intentionally shot and killed the 29-year old model following a domestic dispute.
There are no juries at trials in South Africa and Pistorius's fate will ultimately be decided by Judge Masipa, assisted by two assessors.