It’s the murder trial that has gripped the world. On Valentine’s Day in 2013, South African model Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead by her boyfriend, Olympian/Paralympian Oscar Pistorius. Steenkamp died on the scene from gunshot wounds, fired through the bathroom door by Pistorius. Since the incident, Pistorius has maintained that he thought his girlfriend was an intruder, and he shot through the door in order to protect himself and Steenkamp.
The trial, which begun earlier this week, has already been hailed as dramatic and emotional by news broadcasts. Day four of the trial saw Pistorius break down in court, as gruesome details of Steenkamp’s final moments and the extent of her injuries were read out.
So what exactly happened?
– In the early hours of February 14, 2013, Pistorius awoke to bring the fan that was on the balcony inside. Upon hearing noises in the bathroom, he immediately thought it was an intruder. He was ‘too scared’ to switch a light on. He grabbed his 9mm pistol from beneath his bed, and on the way to the bathroom screamed at Reeva to phone the police, stating that he thought Reeva was still in bed. Pistorius, who’s legs were amputated below the knee as an infant, did not have his prosthetic legs on at the time.
– Pistorius says that he noticed the bathroom window was open, and realised the intruder/s were in the toilet. Upon hearing more movement, he fired shots at the toilet door, and again shouted to Reeva to phone the police. When she didn’t respond, he went back to the bedroom, and upon reaching the bed, realised Reeva was not in bed. He states that’s when it dawned on him that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet.
– Pistorious then stated that he tried to open the toilet door but it was locked. He went to the balcony and screamed for help, before putting his prosthetic legs on, running back to the bathroom, and bashing down the door with a cricket bat to find Reeva’s slumped body. Reeva was still alive at the time.
You can read Pistorius’ full affidavit here.
What the prosecutors are saying:
– Witnesses have revealed in the trial that they heard sounds of screaming coming from the house in the early hours of the morning, followed by up to six gunshots. Dr Stipp, a radiologist who was the first person on the scene after the shooting, was woken to the sound of ‘three loud bangs.’ Thinking they were gunshots, he went to his balcony where he states he thought he heard a female screaming three or four times. When he was trying to call the police, he heard another three loud bangs.
The defense claims that the sound of 2-3 of those gunshots could have been Pistorius breaking down the bathroom door with a bat.
Steenkamp was hit four times.
– It has been alleged that the couple had been arguing that night, and a South African police spokesperson stated that there had been previous reports at Oscar’s home which were ‘allegations of a domestic nature.’
– Pistorius says he called two numbers after realising it was Steenkamp he had shot: Johan Stander who was involved in the administration of the gated community where he lived, and private medical service Netcare. It has been reported that the prosecution is expected to probe Pistorius and Standers relationship and why Pistorius allegedly dismissed security guards who rang his house after hearing gun shots, telling them everything was fine.
What happens next?
The trial will continue next week, with Pistorius already stating he would take the stand. If Pistorius is convicted of premeditated murder, he’ll get life in prison with no opportunity for parole for at least 25 years.