News / Africa

Dueling Versions Heard in South Africa's Pistorius Case

A newspaper vendor puts up posters outside the Pretoria Magistrates court where Oscar Pistorius appeared for a bail hearing, February 20, 2013.
A newspaper vendor puts up posters outside the Pretoria Magistrates court where Oscar Pistorius appeared for a bail hearing, February 20, 2013.
Anita Powell
Paralympic superstar Oscar Pistorius will face another dramatic day of arguments ahead of his trial for murdering his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp.

There are two accounts of what happened in the wee hours of February 14 at Oscar Pistorius’ lavish Pretoria home.

And in both of them - the prosecution’s version and that of the defense - he shot dead his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp.

In Pistorius’ version, the double amputee heard a noise in the dead of night.  This being crime-ridden South Africa, where violent home invasions are not uncommon, Pistorius grabbed his gun.  He said he was terrified and shot four times through the bathroom door.

Only after that, he says, did he realize his girlfriend was not in the bed.

The prosecution’s side is equally chilling.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel says Pistorius attached his prosthetic legs, walked seven meters to a nearby bathroom and shot four times through the locked door with three rounds hitting Steenkamp.  Nel told the court that Pistorius then broke down the door from the outside, carried her body downstairs, and called a friend to say that he thought Steenkamp was a burglar.

On Tuesday, Pistorius’ team tried to counter that cold-blooded version by presenting accounts from Pistorius’ friends, who painted a picture of a couple that fell head over heels in love within a month of meeting.  They met in November, friends said, and by December, Steenkamp told a girlfriend that if Pistorius proposed marriage, she would probably accept.

That revelation sent the runner into another episode of violent sobbing in the dock.  At one point during the defense argument, Pistorius’ sobbing was so intense that Magistrate Desmond Nair stopped the proceedings and allowed the athlete two minutes to compose himself.

The case has gripped the nation, and the world.  Sports is a South African obsession, and during the last Olympics -- during which Pistorius became the first double amputee to compete in the games -- the runner became a powerful emblem of a nation that is still recovering from its own deep wounds.

Outside of the courthouse, members of the women’s league of the ruling African National Congress's chanted, danced and sang, protesting Pistorius' bail hearing and South Africa’s epidemic of violence against women.

Prosecution spokesman Medupe Simasiku has said the bail hearing could last all week. The prosecution will continue their arguments on Wednesday.

But he gave few details of what court-watchers could expect.

"We are not going to say anything more, in as far as the case continued today," said Simasiku. "It is because it is still going to continue the bail application, and it is that we are afraid to prejudice the whole process by talking too much and giving information that will end up not allowing the process to run smoothly.”
 
The tale is as dramatic as Pistorius’ own life story: born without fibula bones, he became the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympics, running in the 400 meters in last year’s London games.  He is nicknamed the 'blade runner' for his carbon fiber prosthetics.

His path to glory has never been easy, but in many ways, this could be the toughest fight of his life.  If convicted in the upcoming trial, he could face life in prison.

Peter Cox contributed to this report.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid