Sad tale of two fathers

AS Oscar Pistorius applies for bail in a Pretoria court on Tuesday, Reeva Steenkamp’s devastated parents will be saying a final goodbye to their only child at her funeral in Port Elizabeth.

The body of the slain Port Elizabeth beauty was flown into Nelson Mandela Bay last night, hours after relatives in Gauteng officially identified her as the victim who was gunned down by the Paralympic superstar early on Thursday morning. She is due to be cremated at the Victoria Park Crematorium on Tuesday after a private memorial service at 11am.

Yesterday, while Pistorius broke down sobbing in front of magistrate Desmond Nair, Reeva’s relatives and friends were still reeling at the Steenkamps’ Seaview home.

Her uncle, Michael Steenkamp, said: “Everyone is still shocked and trying to come terms with the loss. We appreciate all the condolences from people around the world during this difficult time.

“Today we have been making arrangements for the funeral, which has been difficult as relatives are making preparations to come to South Africa from overseas.”

He declined to comment on the police investigation but said Reeva’s parents, Barry and June, were “indirectly” in contact with detectives handling the case.

“We know that forensic tests were done but we do not know the outcome. You probably know more about what is happening than us. We have turned all the televisions and radios off for now.”

“They [June and Barry] just need time and we will probably turn the TV on and start following what has been happening in a day or so.

“Obviously they want answers like any parent would under the circumstances. Today has been a bit better but they are still in shock.”

By 3pm yesterday, relatives had flown in to Port Elizabeth give their condolences to Reeva’s parents.

Steenkamp said her body had been identified yesterday morning and that her casket had arrived in Port Elizabeth before 7pm. He said Tuesday’s funeral would be a private matter.

Although Pistorius has not yet officially pleaded in court, he yesterday denied murdering Reeva in the “strongest terms” and offered his “deepest sympathies” to her family.

His family and management company issued a statement that said: “Firstly, and most importantly, all our thoughts today must be with the family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp.

“Oscar Pistorius has appeared in court here in Pretoria this morning formally charged with the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms.

“Oscar Pistorius has made history as an Olympic and Paralympic sportsman and has been an inspiration to others the world over. He has made it very clear that he would like to send his deepest sympathies to the family of Reeva.

“He would also like to express his thanks through us today for all the messages of support he has received – but as stated our thoughts and prayers today should be for Reeva and her family, regardless of the circumstances of this terrible, terrible tragedy.”

Pistorius broke down in court when state prosecutors told Nair they intended to officially charge him with murder.

High-profile prosecutor Gerrie Nel – who prosecuted disgraced former South African police chief Jackie Selebi – told Nair they intended to prove Reeva’s murder was pre-meditated.

On hearing the news, Pistorius began sobbing, covering his face with his hands. “Take it easy,” Nair told him. “Come take a seat.”

Pistorius’s advocate, Barry Roux, asked for the bail application to be postponed, allowing them to “investigate and research” the matter so the team could “put ourselves in a better position to argue the schedule of the offence”.

Nair granted permission for Pistorius to be moved from the cramped Pretoria Central Prison to the Brooklyn police station until his bail hearing on Tuesday.

Pistorius’s father, Henke, and brother, Carl, sat directly behind him in the packed courtroom, occasionally leaning forward to give him a pat on the shoulder.

Yesterday detectives and blood splatter experts continued to comb his luxury home in the Silver Woods country estate in Pretoria East.

Reeva was shot in the head, arm, hand and pelvis inside the house at about 3am. Mystery surrounds the incident and police remain tight-lipped, saying that the details will surface in the court case.

– Additional reporting by Sapa

This is a version of an article that appeared in
the print edition of the Weekend Post on Saturday, February 16, 2013.

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