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

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe 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.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs