What we know so far about Reeva Steenkamp and the case against Oscar Pistorius

Olympian weeps in court as prosecutors suggest killing was premeditated


Athlete Oscar Pistorius weeps in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Friday, Feb 15, 2013. (Antione de Ras, Independent Newspapers Ltd South Africa, AP Photo)

This is what we know. Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympian and Olympian, is accused of murdering Reeva Steenkamp, his girlfriend. He allegedly shot her four times with a 9-mm pistol around 4 a.m. Valentine’s Day morning.

South African media are reporting she was struck through a bathroom door. Neighbours told police they’d heard “screaming and shouting” around the time of the shooting.  Beeld, a South African newspaper, have reported that Steenkamp was alive when security guards first arrived at the scene.

On Friday morning in a Pretoria courtroom, the star athlete wept as  murder charges were read. Prosecutors told the court they will make the case that the killing was premeditated.

Immediately following the hearing, the alleged murder was “disputed in the strongest terms,” by Pistorius’s family and UK-based management firm.

Pistorius will spend the weekend in jail before a bail hearing early next week. There are reports that he is on suicide watch.

Pistorius is known as the “blade runner,” a nickname for the prosthetic limbs he wears to race. The 26-year-old is the model underdog, overcoming odds to become a champion sprinter. He is the winner of six Paralympic golds, and the right to race on his blades in the London 2012 Games. His adversities aren’t just physical. In 2009, he broke his jaw and smashed an eye socket in a speedboat crash. His recovery was a testament to his commitment to being a better person — and athlete. “There were things I was doing in my life that weren’t conducive to great performance,” he said to the Guardian before the London Games. “To go throw it away right now wouldn’t make sense.”

Reeva Steenkamp was becoming famous in her own right. She was a law graduate, voted one of FHM’s sexiest women, and a women’s advocate. “I woke up in a happy safe home this morning,” she said last week in a tweet. “Not everyone did. Speak out against the rape of individuals.” Steenkamp was poised to be the brightest star of a reality television show debuting this Saturday.

Her death has shocked South Africa and the world. Yes, because it is a celebrity murder —Pistorius is among the most recognizable faces in the country. But also because it was done with a gun, used against a woman.

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It’s an understatement to say the gun debate here is different than in North America. For one, having a gun isn’t contentious. Armed robberies are common and having a gun to protect yourself is common sense. For another, people are paranoid. “Nothing like getting home to hear the washing machine on and thinking it’s an intruder to go into full recon mode into the pantry! waa,” Pistorius said in a November 2012 tweet.

Pistorius isn’t the only one who is scared in the suburbs. One woman, whose house overlooks Pistorius’s mansion, says the security at Silver Woods Estate is unbeatable — that’s why she lives there. The community boasts electric fencing, cameras, and guards in trucks, on bikes and on foot with dogs. “And we have armed security on top of all that,” she says, describing South Africa as “scary.” Still, she never imagined a murder could happen in Silver Woods. “You don’t expect that to happen here.”

In the morning, the most popular theory being batted around by the local media was that Pistorius had shot Steenkamp thinking she was an intruder. Police dismissed this theory. By the afternoon, the conversation had drifted to domestic abuse. Violence against women has been in the headlines after 17-year-old Anene Booysen was gang raped and murdered in Bredasdorp, in the country’s south. South African President Jacob Zuma said in his state of the union address, held the evening of the shooting, that “the brutality and cruelty metted out to defenseless women is unacceptable and has no place in our country.”

“It’s called a security estate, and that’s what it is,” said a man walking by Pistorius’s house on Thursday evening. “I’d say don’t go around blaming crime for everything in South Africa.” His wife agreed. “That’s people’s instant response,” she said. “It’s not always the case.”


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What we know so far about Reeva Steenkamp and the case against Oscar Pistorius

    • People with faces like angels are not necessarily so, ever heard of the angelic faced vamp Milady in Victor Hugo’s ‘Three Musketeers’?

      • And without knowing anything about her, you’ve linked her to a villain in literature?

        • so tell us what she was really like, when you met her.

          • I think a dingo ate your brain.

          • lol.. you think? i doubt it.. ironic isnt it?

      • Alexander Dumas! FGS! ALEXANDER DUMAS – Not Victor Hugo!

  1. There is no one who would call themselves a man and kill another human being for no reason> I don’t care if she had the face of an angel or not.

  2. The Pistorius PR machine is in full flow. Kinda reminds me of good ol’ boy OJ.

  3. It has been widely reported that Oscar was involved in two previous ‘domestic’ incidents’ thus, as Stephanie Findlay writes, the inference is that Reeva Steenkamp’s death may have been an incident of ‘domestic abuse’ or ‘violence against women’. I would like to clear this confusion up, as the police use the term ‘domestic incident’ to refer to an incident that happens in a person’s home, regardless of whether it was in fact an act of violence against a woman or “domestic violence’. The two police ‘domestic’ incidents mentioned are first, the woman who was injured when something fell on her leg, and secondly, Oscar is reported to have threatened a man with breaking his legs. There is no mention by police, in anything I have read, of visiting the home after one of these loud arguments between Oscar and his girlfriend.

    Rather than view Keeva Steenkamp as a victim of ‘domestic violence’, it might be helpful to see her as a career woman and a national celebrity, independent financially and within her own life, an equal to Oscar and not dependent on him. I have seen no evidence that this was a case of domestic ‘violence’. I have written about two murders in which the ‘domestic violence’ issue comes to the forefront, in Domestic Violence narratives: the murders of Lois Mordue and Dave Lucio, June 9, 2010, http://suemcpherson.blogspot.com/2010/06/domestic-violence-narratives-murders-of.html .

  4. they may want to reconsider, the sentence, “the most popular theory being batted around” in light of the bloodied cricket bat now being presented as evidence…

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