News / Africa

Pistorius Hearing Continues in Pretoria

oscar pistoriusoscar pistorius
x
oscar pistorius
oscar pistorius
Anita Powell
Paralympic superstar Oscar Pistorius faces another dramatic day of arguments Wednesday ahead of his trial for allegedly murdering his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. It is sure to be South Africa’s most gripping legal case since the end of apartheid.   

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," he said. "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.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs