- Barry Steenkamp gives first testimony at High Court hearing
- Paralympic medalist could get up to 15 years for murder
Reeva Steenkamp’s father urged the South African High Court to punish Oscar Pistorius for murdering his daughter.
“Oscar has to pay for what he did,” Barry Steenkamp, 73, said Tuesday in his first appearance at the High Court hearing that is determining Pistorius’s sentence. The Paralympic gold medalist could face as many as 15 years in prison for the murder.
Barry Steenkamp said he believed that his daughter and Pistorius probably had an argument before he fired four hollow-point bullets through the bathroom door at his home in the early hours of Valentine’s day in 2013. The athlete has testified that he thought she was an intruder in his house.
“I personally think that there was an argument,” Steenkamp said, trembling and battling to hold back tears. “She must have been in so much fear and pain, that is what I think of all the time, I visualize that I can see it myself. It must have been absolutely and utterly awful.”
As Steenkamp described receiving the news of his daughter’s murder, Pistorius, 29, held his head in his hands. Steenkamp said he had suffered a stroke after his daughter’s death.
Judge Thokozile Masipa originally convicted Pistorius of manslaughter for shooting Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013 through a locked toilet door. In December, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that he was guilty of murder, citing “errors of law” in the first verdict.
In the two days of testimony, witnesses for the defense described Pistorius as “broken” and said he should be hospitalized rather than jailed. The hearing will resume on Wednesday, with prosecutor Gerrie Nel expected to call a last witness before closing arguments.
Known as the Blade Runner because of his J-shaped prosthetic blades, Pistorius, 29, was granted 10,000-rand ($657) bail and ordered to remain under house arrest after the Supreme Court imposed the murder conviction on Dec. 3. He’s been serving part of his previous five-year sentence for culpable homicide at his uncle’s home.
While Pistorius said he shot Steenkamp in the belief she was an intruder, the Supreme Court decided that he must have known the bullets would have killed whomever was behind the door. The Constitutional Court ruled on March 3 that Pistorius couldn’t appeal the murder conviction.
Since the shooting, Pistorius lost sponsorship deals with companies including Nike Inc., Luxottica Group SpA’s Oakley and Ossur hf.
Pistorius won six Paralympic gold medals and was the first double-amputee runner to compete at the Olympic Games. He was born without fibula in both legs, which were amputated when he was 11 months old.
Barry Steenkamp said his wife June has forgiven Pistorius.
“It still does not exonerate you for the crime that you’ve committed,” he said.