The bail hearing for the embattled South African Olympian and Paralympic gold medallist, Oscar Pistorious started on Tuesday. He had been accused of shooting his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp to death through a locked bathroom door in his apartment.
During the hearing of a bail application filed by Pistorious, fondly called the “Blade Runner” by fans, Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor told the magistrate’s court in Pretoria that on the day of the incident, the athlete armed himself, put on his prosthesis, walked seven metres and fired three shots at his girlfriend who was in the bathroom. Nel said Pistorious action showed that there was premeditation to kill on his path. Miss Steenkamp’s overnight bag was also allegedly found in the bedroom.
The prosecutor told the court that the murder was premeditated and that the accused had planned to say that he thought he was shooting at an intruder. “It was all part of the planning, why would a burglar lock himself in the bathroom?” he asked.
The athlete sobbed in court as proceedings went on.
The Magistrate, Desmond Nair said “I cannot rule out premeditation and for the purposes of bail, the case is a Schedule 6 offence”. In other words, the schedule which borders on premeditation would apply and the charges could only be downgraded, given evidence, an indication that Oscar Pistorious could face a life sentence if found guilty.
Moreover, in charges based on Schedule 6 which is a serious charge in South Africa, bail can only be secured in exceptional circumstances.
Sequel to the prosecutions claims that the bathroom door was broken down after the shooting; the defence attorney, Barry Roux put forward a question demanding that the court should be told whether the breaking of the door was to kill the deceased “or to get her out”. He stated that it was “never ever” a premeditated murder as he told the court that his client didn’t know it was his girlfriend that was behind the bathroom door through which he allegedly shot her.
The athlete’s father believes his soon must have acted on instinct. “When you are a sportsman, you act even more on instinct. Its instinct, things happen and that’s what you do”, he said.
Meanwhile, as the accused athlete was in court battling for bail, his late girlfriend’s body was taken for a service and later to a crematorium in Port Elizabeth.
A recess was held after which the defence team came out to state its argument for the Pistorious’ bail. The accused person in an affidavit he tendered denied the murder charge. He stated in the affidavit that “I have been informed that I have been accused of murder, I deny the accusation.
I deny that I committed murder in the strongest point. I had no intention to kill my girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.”
The athlete also stated that “I earn R 5.6 million a year; I have never been committed of crimes. I am acutely aware of people gaining access to homes to commit crimes. I have received death threats.
On February 13, Reeva would have gone out with her friends, me with mine. She decided to stay at home.
On February 13, we decided to have a quiet dinner at home. My legs were off. She later did yoga exercises. I was watching TV. At the end of the evening, we got into bed.”
He stated that at a stage, he woke up to close the sliding door and heard a noise in the bathroom. And felt a sense of terror come over him. He also stated that he shouted at the intruder but there was no response. In the affidavit, he also stated that there were no bars across the bathroom windows and he remembered that contractors left ladders outside. He claimed he used the 9mm pistol which was normally under his bed and fired four shots. On getting back to the bed, he noted that Reeva was not there.
“I returned to the bathroom calling her name, she didn’t respond. I tried opening the door but it was locked. I kicked the door open, called paramedics and complex security. I tried to carry her downstairs” he said.
Statements from friends of Reeva described the accused as a humble, well mannered man. They also testified that Reeva often said she would say “yes” if Pistorious proposed marriage.
The judge adjourned till 9 am on Wednesday while indications emerged that the ruling on the bail application might be delivered then as the defence has rested its case.