Oscar Pistorius: Reeva Steenkamp's family speak out as world focuses on Paralympic athlete’s release from prison

Ms Steenkamp’s cousin reflects on the family’s pain: ‘Anytime his name is mentioned and you hear it, it’s like another blow’

Heather Saul
Tuesday 20 October 2015 09:01
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Reeva Steenkamp at an award ceremony
Reeva Steenkamp at an award ceremony

Oscar Pistorius continues to be the centre of international attention after being released from prison twelve months into his five year sentence for culpable homicide.

The Paralympic athlete left his cell in Pretoria on Monday evening and travelled to his uncle’s house in an upmarket suburb of the South African capital, where he will serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest.

The focus has shifted from the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who he shot through a bathroom door on Valentine’s Day in 2013 four times, to how Pistorius’s life will change on parole. Less attention is paid to the aftershocks still experienced by Ms Steenkamp’s family because of his actions, who condemned his sentence as “unfair” after his release.

Ms Steenkamp was a law graduate, model, TV presenter and a celebrity in South Africa who appeared in adverts for Toyota, Avon and FHM. The 29-year-old had supported her parents financially with the money she made from modelling and campaigned against domestic abuse, tweeting her support for a campaign highlighting violence against women four days before she was killed.

Her friends said Ms Steenkmap was hoping to qualify as a legal advocate after retiring from modelling. Tributes from those close to her celebrated her intelligence, with Kerry Smith, a friend from university, remembering Ms Steenkamp as “more than just a pretty face; she had a beautiful heart and ambition”.

Kim Martin, Ms Steenkamp’ cousin, gave an emotional testimony during the sentencing, where she described hearing the news of her cousin’s death as “the end of the world”. Speaking ahead of his release, she told the BBC her death continues to affect the family.

A picture taken on January 26, 2013 shows Olympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius posing next to his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp - 3 weeks later Pistorius was taken into police custody.

“You try to get on with your lives,” she said. “You try not to focus any energy on Oscar being in jail, Oscar getting out of jail. But I know that anytime his name is mentioned and you hear it, it’s like another blow. It’s not easy.

“We had to be content with what happened at that time [during sentencing] to be able to carry on. For your own personal sanity. Being in court all those months […] there was so much negative energy. You were just glad to get out alive.

“It's not a just, it's not a fair sentence. He really does have his freedom. Yes he can’t get in a car and drive down the road, and he can't go out with his friends drinking, but I think for somebody who shot someone behind a door, four times, I think that’s getting off lightly.”

Pistorius must meet with Ms Steenkamp’s parents “if and when they agree to” as a condition of his release. Speaking to the eCNA news agency on Monday, Correctional services minister Michael Masutha said he hoped the meeting would help the family come to terms with their loss.

He said: “It is especially the person who is the source of your pain, who making peace with is likely to bring the greatest healing.”

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