Oscar Pistorius lawyers 'want settlement with Steenkamps'
Paralympian Oscar Pistorius's legal team offering 'multi-million rand' settlement to model's parents
LAWYERS acting for Oscar Pistorius are trying "desperately" to reach an out-of-court settlement with the parents of Reeva Steenkamp, the model he shot dead on Valentine's Day, it has been claimed.
Barry and June Steenkamp have been approached by the paralympian's lawyers in regards to their "multi-million rand civil claim for loss of income and emotional distress", the Johannesburg Times reports.
The lawyers are anxious to settle the lawsuit before the conclusion of the criminal trial, "in an attempt to reduce a possible payout," the paper says. The civil suit, though not entirely dependent on the criminal trial, would be strengthened if Pistorius was found to have killed Reeva deliberately, the paper says.
The Steenkamps took legal action because she helped them financially, including paying part of the rent on their home in Port Elizabeth. It is believed they are seeking three million rand in compensation for her death although no official figure has been released.
"We have no choice but to sue," June Steenkamp was quoted by the Sunday Times as saying. "Pistorius has placed us in this position. We are struggling financially — Reeva helped us."
June Steemkamp said that on the day her daughter died, she had promised to pay her parents' cable television subscription. "I was fretting that I would miss her first TV appearance. She told me not to worry, that she would send money."
Lawyers for the Steenkamps confirmed that "intense" discussions about a settlement were under way.
Pistorius will go on trial for the premeditated murder of Steenkamp on 3 March.
Oscar Pistorius sees formal murder charges for first time
THE TRIAL of Oscar Pistorius for the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp will take place in March next year.
The dates of 3 to 20 March were agreed at a hearing at Pretoria magistrates' court today – which would have been Steenkamp’s 30th birthday, reports the BBC.
The South African paralympian, widely known as the ‘Blade Runner’, denies murdering his girlfriend. He claims he shot her, on Valentine’s Day, through a locked bathroom door after mistaking her for an intruder.
The Pistorius family prayed at length before this morning's proceedings. During the brief hearing, the judge asked Pistorius if he was well, to which he replied: "Under the circumstances, your honour."
The prosecution handed over details of its case against Pistorius, including a witness list and forensic reports.
Pistorius said it was the first time he has seen a copy of the indictment, which charged him with murder and contravention of the Firearms Control Act.
The detailed charges say Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius "did unlawfully and intentionally kill" Reeva Steenkamp on 14 February 2013 at 286 Bushwillow Street, Silverwoods Country Estate, Pretoria.
In the summary of substantial facts, it was claimed that "some of the state witnesses heard a woman scream, followed by moment of silence, then heard gunshots and then more screaming".
It also stated: "The accused said to witnesses on the scene that he thought she was an intruder. Even then, the accused shot with the direct intention to kill a person. An error in persona, will not affect the intention to kill a human being."
Court documents said more than 100 witnesses will be called to give evidence at the trial, including one of Pistorius's ex-girlfriends.
One South African journalist, Liezl Thom, reported that Pistorius "tenderly" wiped a tear from his sister Aimee's face after the case was postponed.
The 26-year-old, who made history at last year's Olympics as the first double-amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes, remains on bail. He faces a sentence of life imprisonment if convicted of premeditated murder.
Oscar Pistorius: South Africa’s legal stars line up for battle
OSCAR PISTORIUS will be given full details of the case against him tomorrow when prosecutors formally indict him for the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day.
A trial date will also be decided at the hearing, setting the scene for a clash between two of South Africa’s legal heavyweights.
In the Pistorius camp the key figure is defence lawyer Barry Roux, a man The Guardian describes as a tough-talking “legal gun for hire”. Roux is a senior counsel – the South African equivalent of a QC – and made a strong impression at pre-trial hearings by reducing a senior police detective, Hilton Botha, to a “stuttering wreck”.
“This is like watching a baby seal getting clubbed,” tweeted a South African journalist as Roux’s brutal cross-examination of Botha gathered pace. The police officer was subsequently removed from the case when it was discovered he was facing seven counts of attempted murder himself.
Roux was called to the bar in 1982 and now earns around 50,000R (about £3,200) a day for criminal work. He’s not as “slick or dapper” as Johnnie Cochran, the flamboyant lawyer who got O J Simpson acquitted of murder, says the New York Post. But “he’s twice as relentless.”
Roux will be assisted by Kenny Oldwage. He’s well-known in South Africa for securing the acquittal of Sizwe Mankazana, the man who was driving the car in which Nelson Mandela’s 13-year-old great-grandchild Zenani died in an accident in 2010.
The man hoping to put Pistorius behind bars for the premeditated murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp is equally redoubtable. State prosecutor Gerrie Nel is no stranger to big cases, having successfully jailed South Africa’s police chief Jackie Selebi on corruption charges in 2010.
During the investigation of Selebi, Nel was woken by 20 police officers who arrested him and his wife in front of their children on “trumped-up fraud charges”, the Post says. The charges were later dismissed and Selebi was handed a 15-year jail term.
Monday’s hearing is likely to be “brief and procedural”, says Reuters. Pistorius will be served with an indictment, a more detailed charge sheet that is used to move a case from a lower court to a high court. The main charge will be premeditated murder, but Pistorius will also be accused of two counts of recklessly discharging a gun.
During the hearing, the prosecution and defence teams will agree on a trial date. Most observers expect it to be in the first quarter of next year.
The shortcomings of the police investigation carried out in the immediate aftermath of the 14 February shooting were brutally exposed by Roux at the pre-trial hearings. But Hilton Botha’s replacement, detective Vinesh Moonoo, has a reputation as the “top gumshoe” in the South African police force. He has built a case using psychologists as well as forensic, ballistics and technology experts.
Pistorius, 26, will also be in court on Monday, the day Steenkamp would have celebrated her 30th birthday. If he is nervous about the hearing he showed little sign of it when he was spotted kayaking with friends this week, reports the Daily Mail.
“He looked relaxed,” said 25-year-old Bronwin du Plessis who snapped the sprinter as he prepared to go paddling near the Western Cape town of Hermanus. “You wouldn't think it was the same person you saw in the courtroom.”
Oscar Pistorius to face two new gun charges
OSCAR PISTORIUS is expected to face two additional charges when he returns to court on Monday.
The National Prosecuting Authority has informed the South African sprinter's lawyers that they plan to charge him with two counts of recklessly discharging a gun in a public place, the Daily Mirror reports.
It is believed that the new charges relate to two separate incidents.
The first happened when Pistorius allegedly fired his gun out of the sunroof of a friend's car as they returned home from a weekend away. The second relates to allegations he accidentally fired a friend's gun in a Johannesburg restaurant.
The new charges will be read out in court on Monday when the 26-year-old athlete is expected to be given details of the prosecution's case against him.
The 19 August court date coincides with what would have been the 30th birthday of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp who he shot dead at his home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day. Pistorius insists he shot Steenkamp through a bathroom door after mistaking her for an intruder.
Oscar Pistorius: athlete in court on Reeva Steenkamp's birthday
OSCAR PISTORIUS is set to return to court on 19 August, the day his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp would have celebrated her 30th birthday.
Police probing Steenkamp’s death – the model was shot dead by Pistorius at his home in Pretoria on Valentine’s Day – have concluded their investigation, according to Eyewitness News. When the Paralympian returns to court his defence team “will get a full picture of the evidence the state has against him and how it will try to prove that he murdered Steenkamp”.
Pistorius maintains that he shot his girlfriend through the bathroom door after mistaking her for a burglar.
It is understood that police are still trying to analyse the sprinter’s Apple iPhone which he used on the night he killed Steenkamp. Pistorius has told investigators he has forgotten the password to his iTunes account which is required to access any data held on the device.
It is hoped the password can be retrieved from Apple’s servers, Eyewitness News reports.
No date has been set for Pistorius’ trial, but it is expected to begin in the first quarter of next year.
Oscar Pistorius's ten minutes in court - six key questions
OSCAR PISTORIUS appeared in court for the first time today since he was freed on bail in February over the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The Paralympian had to fight his way through a scrum of photographers outside the Pretoria court, but spoke only once during the 10-minute hearing. Here are six key questions raised by the athlete's re-emergence into the spotlight.
What was today's hearing all about? Today's pre-trial hearing was expected to be brief and it was. The prosecution said it needed more time for "further investigation" and had already agreed with the defence to postpone proceedings until 19 August.
Did the magistrate have anything to say? Acting Chief Magistrate Daniel Thulare took the opportunity to express his concern about the way the media have been covering the case. He believes there is a "trial by media" under way which may "scandalise the court processes and the administration of justice". Thulare called on the international press contingent to respect South Africa's judicial process, a reference perhaps to graphic pictures of the bathroom where Steenkamp was killed which were leaked to Sky News and broadcast two days ago. Thulare said the national prosecuting authority should look seriously at whether anyone has acted in such a way as to scandalise the court.
How did Pistorius look? The 26-year-old Paralympian looked very calm as he arrived at court wearing a grey suit, blue shirt and dark blue shirt with white squares. He stood stiffly in court and his face was a "mask of concentration and neutrality" as he listened to the magistrate, says the BBC's Andrew Harding. The sprinter spoke only once, saying "Yes, your honour" when asked by Thulare if he understood that he would be arrested if he failed to reappear in court on 19 August.
How is Pistorius coping? Badly, according to the uncle with whom he has been living for the past three months. Arnold Pistorius told CNN the sprinter had grown a beard (he was clean-shaven at today's hearing) because he doesn't want to be recognised and has surrounded himself with photographs of Steenkamp. "What can you say if the person you love the most dies, and you were the instrument?" Arnold Pistorius said. "How would you feel? It's unthinkable."
Were Steenkamp's family there? The court was packed with about 90 journalists and members of the Pistorius clan including his brother Carl and sister Aimee. Steenkamp's parents, June and Barry, did not appear to be at court. They told Sky News they were desperate for answers about why their daughter was killed and were reportedly horrified by the publication of the crime-scene photographs.
What happens next? Pistorius remains free on bail of 1 million rand and the same terms he was granted on 22 February. He is required to report to Brooklyn police station twice a week and forbidden to communicate with potential witnesses. He will return to court for another pre-trial hearing on 19 August, but the case is unlikely to come to a full trial until early next year.
OSCAR PISTORIUS has held a memorial service for his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot dead at his home on Valentine's Day. But questions are being asked as to how and why news of the "private" ceremony ended up being leaked to the media.
The Olympic and Paralympic sprinter held the ceremony at his uncle's house near Pretoria, where he is living after being granted bail as he awaits trial for the premeditated murder of the model.
He was reportedly joined by around 20 friends and family who said prayers for the dead woman. Details of the service emerged after they were "leaked" to a local radio station.
That prompted the public relations agency representing Pistorius to issue a press release. "Oscar specifically requested the memorial service as he continues to grieve and remains in deep mourning for the loss of his partner, Reeva," it read. "Since it is such a sensitive issue, Oscar has asked for a private service with people who share his loss, including his family members who knew and loved Reeva as one of their own."
Security guards were posted outside the house where Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner because of his prosthetic legs, is now staying to keep journalists away, reported The Guardian. And it quoted a friend of Steenkamp who was clearly sceptical about the sprinter's motives. Shasi Naidoo told the paper: "If you wanted to keep a memorial service private, you would not put out a press release. I think this is a sad attempt to alter public perception."
The Sun noted: "Pistorius was accused on social network sites of staging a bizarre publicity stunt."
American website Sports Grid described it as a "gutless, toothless" attempt to score "sympathy points" and wondered what the dead woman's family would make of her killer's actions.
Steenkamp's official memorial was held last week in her home town of Port Elizabeth, while Pistorius was in court in Pretoria attending his four-day bail hearing.
Meanwhile, US tabloid magazine National Inquirer, known for its outlandish reporting, has claimed that Steenkamp was pregnant when she was killed. However, the reports have not been verified in South Africa and the results of her post mortem have not been made public, says the Daily Mail.
In yet another twist, the magistrate in the case, Desmond Nair, has confirmed that he is related to a woman who is suspected of killing her two children and committing suicide last weekend. The news comes after lead investigator Hilton Botha was removed from the case when it was revealed he was accused of attempted murder, and Pistorius's brother, Carl, was charged with unlawful killing over a fatal road accident.
Oscar Pistorius granted bail after epic two-hour ruling
OSCAR PISTORIUS today walked out of a South African court after being granted bail as he awaits trial on a charge that he murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
The Paralympic athlete who shot dead the model at his home in Pretoria last week was freed on bail of R1m (£75,000) after a dramatic four-day hearing in which both sides laid out their cases.
However, magistrate Desmond Nair said he was not convinced that investigators had established the murder was premeditated, the Daily Mail reports, and was therefore able to grant bail.
Pistorius must surrender his passport and guns and report to police twice a week. He must not return to the house where the shooting took place or talk to witnesses in the case, and he has been banned from drinking alcohol. His next appearance in court will be in early June.
After the bail hearing itself - which was expected to last just two days - overran there was more exasperation at the length of magistrate Nair's ruling this afternoon. He took almost two hours to reveal that he was allowing the application.
Pistorius sobbed as it became apparent that he would be granted bail, and the family hugged after the ruling was delivered.
Pistorius's brother Carl said the family was "relieved", but he added that it would be "a long road ahead".
The athlete's uncle, Arnold Pistorius, released a statement on behalf of the family: "Although we are obviously relieved that Oscar has been granted bail, this is still a very sad time for the family of Reeva and for us. We are grateful that the magistrate recognised the validity and strength of our application. As the family, we are convinced that Oscar's version of what happened on that terrible night will prove to be true."
The decision came after "three-and-a-half days of dramatic testimony and argument," said the Mail & Guardian newspaper. It added that the sprinter – nicknamed the Blade Runner for his high-tech prosthetic legs - "would focus on the upcoming trial, but may well resume training, even though he is not expected to compete for some time".
Also in court for the ruling was Vineshkumar Moonoo, the most senior detective in the South African police. He has taken over the prosecution case after it emerged that Hilton Botha, who had given evidence against Pistorius during the hearing, was himself facing several charges of attempted murder.
Botha was removed from the case by national police commissioner Mangwashi Phiyega after it was revealed that he and two other officers were to face trial for shooting at a minicab taxi in 2011 when they were apparently drunk.
Botha also performed badly under cross-examination from Pistorius's defence team and was singled out for criticism in Nair's ruling. The magistrate said Botha was guilty of "errors" and had "blundered" over a claim that he found testosterone in Pistorius’s home.
Journalist Daniel Howden tweeted that Botha had been subjected to a "remarkable trashing" by the magistrate. "Will Warrant Officer Botha ever be given another major case to investigate?" asked the Daily Telegraph.
Oscar Pistorius: defence on top as magistrate hints at bail
OSCAR PISTORIUS will find out on Thursday whether he is to be granted bail over the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp when the hearing enters a third day.
The sprinter's defence team appeared to gain the upper hand during a gripping second day of evidence, and BBC correspondent Andrew Harding tweeted that he overheard a member of the prosecution whisper "we're in terrible trouble".
During the afternoon session the prosecution even suffered the indignity of being laughed at in court and the magistrate appeared to drop a hint about which way the hearing was going.
Desmond Nair intervened during questioning to ask police officer Hilton Botha if he thought Pistorius would skip bail. "The accused before court is an international athlete, paralympic athlete, he uses prosthesis on both legs. I'm sure we would both agree that his face is widely recognised internationally. Do you subjectively believe that he would take the opportunity, being who he is, using prosthetics to get around, to flee South Africa?" he asked.
When Botha replied "yes" there was laughter.
Nair then asked. "Do you think it's possible that a person who has won Olympic golds would want to forsake his career when he has a chance to prove his innocence in a court of law?" Botha's reply was to insist that the threat of jail was "no joke".
During the morning session, defence lawyer Barry Roux unpicked much of the prosecution case and even lured Botha into admitting that a witness who heard screams before the shooting lived 600m away . However, Botha later withdrew that answer and insisted that she lived just 300m from the scene of the shooting.
Alex Thompson of Channel 4 News likened the defence's counterattack to the "infamous rope-a-dope boxing strategy". The prosecution case had been "shouted from the streets and the rooftops by the media" he said, but now the defence was fighting back.
And sympathy appears to be growing for the Blade Runner. Andrew Harding of the BBC spent the day sitting just inches away from Pistorius. "He is a man in deep trauma and it is hard, regardless of what he did or did not do, not to feel and respond to his anguish," he said.
Pistorius: witness who heard shouting 'lived 600m away'
NON-STOP shouting was heard coming from Oscar Pistorius's house on the night his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead in the athlete's bathroom, a court heard today.
Prosecutors laying out their case against Pistorius on the second day of his bail hearing in Pretoria said they have a female witness who heard the shouting "between 2am and 3am", Sky News reports.
But under cross-examination the police officer leading the investigation said the witness's house is 600 metres from Pistorius's home, a revelation that caused gasps from the sprinter's relatives in the court room.
The court also heard that injecting needles and a substance similar to testosterone had been found by police at the Paralympian's home. But Pistorius's defence lawyer Barry Roux said the drug was a "herbal remedy used by many athletes". Roux added: "It's not a steroid and it's not a banned substance."
The Guardian described today's hearing as a "morning of furious claim and counter-claim" by prosecutors and defence lawyers.
In an affidavit read out in court yesterday Pistorius said he was not wearing his prosthetic legs at the time of the shooting and felt "vulnerable" when he heard what he thought was an intruder in his bathroom. The police officer leading the investigation, Hilton Botha, cast doubt on that claim today. He told the court the trajectory of the shots fired into the bathroom where Steenkamp was killed was downward, suggesting the double-amputee was firing from a standing position.
Botha also told the court:
- The two iPhones and two BlackBerrys found at the scene had not been used to call the police or paramedics.
- Pistorius was a flight risk because investigators have found he has a house in Italy and "offshore accounts".
- Pistorius faces new charges of possessing unlicensed ammunition after police found .38 rounds in a bedroom safe.
But during his cross-examination of Botha, Roux accused the police officer of "putting the worst possible interpretation on the evidence", The Guardian reports. In a sometimes abrasive encounter, Roux got Botha to admit:
- He couldn't find anything at the crime scene inconsistent with Pistorius's claim that he shot Steenkamp by accident.
- He had not actually checked Pistorius's phone to see if the athlete had called a hospital after the shooting.
- He didn't read "the whole name" on the drugs found at Pistorius's house before he claimed that testosterone had been found (the substance was in fact testoconpasupium).
The hearing continues.
OSCAR PISTORIUS says he had "no intention" of killing his "beloved" girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and is "absolutely mortified" by her death. But a magistrate ruled today that the Paralympic athelete should face a charge of premeditated murder over the model's killing.
The magistrate decided that, for the purpose of considering bail, the case against Pistorius would be considered a 'schedule six' offence - or premeditated murder. This means it will be difficult for the 26-year-old athlete to get bail, Sky News reports.
In a sworn statement read by his defence lawyer at today's hearing, Pistorius said he had been woken in the middle of the night by the sound of what he thought was an intruder.
Feeling "extremely vulnerable" in the "pitch-dark" bedroom and thinking Steenkamp was still in bed with him, he fired his pistol at the bathroom door. When he realised Steenkamp was not in the bed, "it filled me with horror and fear", Pistorius said in his statement. He broke down the door to reach her and "she died in my arms".
The athlete's defence team argued that Steenkamp's killing was "not even murder" and Pistorius should be given bail because he is not a danger to society or himself and is not going to abscond.
But prosecutor Gerrie Nel offered a very different version of events today, telling the Pretoria court the Paralympian had got out of bed at his home on the night Steenkamp was killed, put on his prosthetic legs, "walked seven metres" and fired his gun through the bathroom door.
Nel said Pistorius fired four shots and hit Steenkamp three times. Then he broke down the bathroom door and carried the victim downstairs. The 30-year-old model had fled to the small bathroom and locked herself in because she was scared after an argument.
Nel told the court the defence had "a number of questions to answer". They included:
- Why didn't Pistorius search for his girlfriend if he thought there was a burglar in the house?
- Why did Steenkamp lock herself in the toilet - was she afraid of being shot or killed?
- Why did Pistorius put on his prosthetic limbs and walk seven metres to the bathroom?
"If I arm myself, walk a distance and murder a person, that is premeditated," said Nel. "The door is closed. There is no doubt. I walk seven metres and I kill. The motive is 'I want to kill.' That's it."
Pistorius's face was reported to be "creased in pain" and he was "weeping" as he was formally charged with murder.
Steenkamp's private funeral took place today in her home town of Port Elizabeth.
Oscar Pistorius: bloody cricket bat 'central' to murder case
THE DISCOVERY of a bloodied cricket bat at the home of sprinter Oscar Pistorius has added to the mystery surrounding the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot dead in his house on Valentine's Day.
The South African press have quoted police saying that as well as being shot in the hand, hip, arm and head, Steenkamp also suffered a fractured skull. The discovery of the bloodstained bat, which Pistorius kept in his bedroom, is now said to be "central" to the prosecution's case.
"If the blood [on the bat] is that of Miss Steenkamp, it would strengthen the prosecution case for premeditated murder," says the Daily Telegraph. "If it came from Pistorius, police would argue that the model used it to defend herself."
The South African paper City Press says police have "ruled out" the possibility that Pistorius mistook his girlfriend for an intruder. It says the authorities have a "rock-solid" case against the iconic 'Blade Runner', who last year became the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympics as well as the Paralympics.
The paper claims to have pieced together the events of Thursday morning and argues that Pistorius may have "chased" Steenkamp through the house during the attack.
"The suspicion is that the first shot, in the bedroom, hit her in the hip," a police source told the paper. "She then ran and locked herself in the toilet. She was doubled over because of the pain. He fired three more shots. She probably covered her head, which is why the bullet also went through her hand."
Afterwards it is claimed Pistorius made a series of hysterical phone calls to friends and relatives. When the athlete's family arrived, he was carrying Steenkamp down the stairs, where he tried unsuccessfully to revive her through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Pistorius has cancelled all future races in order to concentrate on clearing his name. The Times says the decision reinforces "the possibility that he will never run competitively again". ·