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

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora