News / Africa

Pistorius Testifies, Apologizes at Murder Trial

  • Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria, April 14, 2014.
  • Oscar Pistorius outside the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, April 10, 2014.
  • Jane Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp's mother is comforted by a relative after her dead daughter's picture was shown on screen during the trial of Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, April 9, 2014.
  • Family members, including uncle Arnold Pistorius, right, cry as they listen to Oscar Pistorius testifying in court in Pretoria, April 8, 2014.
  • Oscar Pistorius becomes emotional during his trial at the high court in Pretoria, April 7, 2014.
  • Members of the public crowd around Oscar Pistorius as he leaves the high court, Pretoria, March 12, 2014.

  • Oscar Pistorius cries as he prays with his sister Aimee and brother Carl at his indictment at the magistrates court in Pretoria, August 19, 2013.
  • This aerial image taken from video provided by VNS24/7 shows the home of Oscar Pistorius in a gated housing complex in Pretoria, Feb. 14, 2013.
  • Olympian runner Oscar Pistorius posing next to his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, Jan. 26, 2013.
  • Oscar Pistorius celebrates winning the men's 400 meter final during the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Sept. 8, 2012.
The Pistorius Murder Trial
Anita Powell
South African runner Oscar Pistorius took the stand in his own defense at his murder trial Monday and began by apologizing to the family of the woman he shot and killed. 

"I would love to take this opportunity to apologize to to Mr. and Mrs. Steenkamp, to Reeva's family, to those of you who knew her and are here today," Pistorious said. "I'd like to apologize and say there's not a moment and there hasn't been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven't thought about your family. I wake up every morning and you're the first people I think of, the first people I pray for. I can't imagine the pain and the sorrow and the emptiness that I've caused you and your family. I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved."

Mr. and Mrs. Steenkamp are the grieving parents of law graduate and model Reeva Steenkamp, Pistorius' girlfriend of three months. The athlete is charged with murdering her at his Pretoria home in February 2013.  

He says he mistook her for an intruder when he shot four times through a locked bathroom door. The prosecution says he meant to kill.
 
Since that night, the athlete says, he's suffered and has been prescribed antidepressants and sleeping pills.
June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva Steenkamp, looks on during the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius at the high court in Pretoria, April 7, 2014.June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva Steenkamp, looks on during the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius at the high court in Pretoria, April 7, 2014.
x
June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva Steenkamp, looks on during the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius at the high court in Pretoria, April 7, 2014.
June Steenkamp, mother of Reeva Steenkamp, looks on during the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius at the high court in Pretoria, April 7, 2014.

 
"I'm scared to sleep for several reasons," he said. "I have terrible nightmares about things that happened that night where I wake up and … I can smell the blood and I wake up to being terrified. If I hear a noise, I wake up, just, in a complete state of terror. It's to the point where I'd rather not sleep than fall asleep and wake up like that."
 
As he continued to speak, describing his early life and his mother's sudden death when he was 15, the athlete struggled to hold in his emotions.
 
He grew more confident describing his upbringing, even smiling wistfully when he told of his mother's insistence on treating her son, who was born without fibula bones, just like his able-bodied siblings.  
 
He spoke of her encouragement as he tried sports in school, even though, he said, he wasn't good at most of them. He spoke of his mother's support when he was bullied at school. He talked about a catastrophic 2009 boating accident that made him re-evaluate his life.
 
In any other context, this would an inspirational tale of a young man who overcame a disability to reach the heights of success. Pistorius, after all, was the first double amputee to run in the Olympics, at the 2012 London Games.
 
But in this drab brown courtroom in Pretoria's High Court, observers say the tale serves a more strategic purpose: to paint Oscar Pistorius as a man who feels vulnerable, is chronically insecure and afraid of the threats posed to him by the world.

Pistorius spoke of the encounters with crime he and his family have endured. He said intruders once ransacked his father's entire house, destroying any belongings that weren't taken.

He said burglars stole a TV set from his mother's place, and that his father had been carjacked twice.

He said his own home was robbed in 2005, with the robbers taking a TV set and a laptop computer.

Defense lawyers will likely use these incidents to help explain why Pistorius, fearing another break-in, fired four shots into his bathroom door.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
April 09, 2014 11:28 AM
Pistorius is a murderer and he can't say anything that will ever change that. He is a bum and horrible human being. Get rid of him!!

by: Sam from: NY
April 08, 2014 9:59 PM
I find it selfish and self serving to say in front of Reva's family how he has nightmares where he "smells the blood". Um....." poor you"?

by: Equilibrio from: Earth
April 07, 2014 2:22 PM
I don't understand the entire clown circus. Let's assume he didn't kill his girlfriend, and that he actually did kill an intruder.. he still KILLED somebody through a door.. he didn't know if it was an armed robber, maybe a teenager, or a woman... does theft deserve death?

by: Tom Minor
April 07, 2014 1:58 PM
So what? Is he pleading insanity?

What does he have to say about that night under oath?

I feel a case of Afluenza coming on..

by: Jeffrey from: Houston
April 07, 2014 1:49 PM
He was a double amputee its seems like if she was in fear for her life she could have just ran away....I'm just saying!
In Response

by: LW from: San Diego
April 07, 2014 2:21 PM
He was a professional runner...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs