‘Broken’ Oscar Pistorius unlikely to continue career

2014-10-13 11:16

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Oscar Pistorius never discussed returning to the track during therapy sessions after his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead, the North Gauteng High Court has heard.

“He did not show any intention to continue with his career,” his psychologist Löre Hartzenberg said under cross-examination from prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

“The severity and the degree of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by Mr Pistorius ... we took one day at a time.”

Nel asked if she, as a trauma counsellor, did not give the Paralympian any hope for the future.

“I’m asking you why you did not discuss his continuing [of] his career,” he asked.

She replied: “He did not want to discuss that. In sessions he was so tired that sessions could not take place.”

She said Pistorius indicated that when the trial was over he wanted to go to Mozambique to work with children at his uncle’s school.

Nel asked her if she knew that Pistorius resumed training.

She said she knew he ran one day because the media reported on it and that he trained in the gym.

Earlier, Hartzenberg said Pistorius was a broken man who lost everything and it was unlikely that he would recover from the shooting.

“We are left with a broken man who has lost everything,” Hartzenberg said.

“On an emotional level his self-perception and self-worth have been damaged. He is unlikely to recover from the shooting incident ...”

She said he lost his career, his loving relationship with Steenkamp and some of his friends.

Hartzenberg said Pistorius felt isolated after the shooting – at a time when he needed the support of friends the most.

Pistorius was humiliated in some instances and it had a profound effect on his identity, she testified.

“Mr Pistorius experienced himself as utterly worthless ...”

As Hartzenberg spoke today, Pistorius sat in the dock looking down.

Steenkamp’s parents, Barry and June sat looking at the psychologist as she spoke.

Hartzenberg told the court that Pistorius would not be able to forget the shooting.

“The flashbacks and the re-experiencing of the shooting will be mental images that he will carry with him,” she said.

“[They] will be part of his life until such time that healing has taken place.”

Pistorius had a platform to make a difference for disabled people and that was also taken away.

Hartzenberg, who first met Pistorius nine days after the shooting and had a first session with him two days later, said he never lost his temper – even when provoked by others or under cross-examination from the state during his trial.

She said she found him to be well-mannered and respectful even if he was irritated and frustrated at times.

“I can confirm his remorse ... The healing process and closure is compromised by inaccurate facts,” she said.

Nel asked Hartzenberg if the Steenkamp family were broken.

She replied: “I have no doubt in my mind that the Steenkamp family must be suffering immense pain.”

Nel responded: “I will lead evidence to indicate that Mr Steenkamp suffered a stroke.”

Hartzenberg said she would accept that.

Nel said that June Steenkamp would “collapse on the floor crying” and said it was expected from a mother who lost her daughter.

Last month Judge Thokozile Masipa found Pistorius not guilty of murdering Steenkamp in his Pretoria townhouse, but convicted him of culpable homicide.

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