Oscar 'blood money' row deepens

2014-10-15 14:33
Barry and June, parents of Reeva Steenkamp, attend the murder trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius in Pretoria. (Herman Verwey, Sapa)

Barry and June, parents of Reeva Steenkamp, attend the murder trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius in Pretoria. (Herman Verwey, Sapa)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pretoria - Lawyers for Reeva Steenkamp's family on Wednesday expressed shock that Oscar Pistorius's defence team revealed details of secret "blood money" payments during a heated courtroom arguments over his sentencing.

In a statement on behalf of the slain model's parents, lawyers said they had "honoured" a request from the athlete not to reveal payments of R6 000 made each month after Pistorius killed her on Valentine's Day 2013.

"We were therefore quite surprised yesterday when this fact was disclosed in court without any prior warning to us," the statement said.

During a sentencing hearing Tuesday, a defence witness referred to the payments as evidence that Pistorius was remorseful about shooting his 29-year-old girlfriend four times through a bathroom door, believing she was an intruder.

The revelation prompted angry suggestions that Pistorius's team had opportunistically revealed the payments to reduce his likelihood of going to jail.

The Paralympian star athlete was found guilty last month of unlawfully killing Steenkamp but acquitted of the more serious charge of murder.

Judge Thokozile Masipa could rule on his punishment as early as Friday, with her options ranging from a fine to 15 years in prison.

Claims about Pistorius's vulnerability and remorse could be central in deciding which way the scales of justice tip.

The defence has suggested Pistorius clean a museum for 16 hours a week as punishment for killing Steenkamp, drawing a furious reaction from the state.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel described the suggestion as "shockingly inappropriate".

On Tuesday, a visibly irate Nel told the court that the Olympian also offered the dead model's family a once off "blood money" payment of nearly R375 000, which the family rejected.

"Did the legal team of the accused tell you that the deceased family rejected the offer of R375 000?" Nel asked witness, probation officer Annette Vergeer.

Steenkamp's parents have said they will repay the roughly R110 000 received from Pistorius "as soon as arrangements can be made in that regard".

"It was always the intention of the parents that the amounts... would be set-off against any civil claim that they were going to institute," the statement said.

The parents have now decided not to continue with a civil claim.

Courtroom tension

The sentencing hearing continued on Wednesday with Vergeer being cross-examined by the prosecution.

She had warned that a jail stretch would "break" Pistorius and claimed it was not in the interest of justice.

"Without legs he will be vulnerable and a lot more vulnerable than the normal man," said Vergeer, a parole officer who was paid for her work for the defence.

"I've recently done a case for rape within the prison, gang rape. How can we say that he won't be exposed to that?" she said, adding that washing his stumps may also be a problem.

South Africa's department of correctional services has said Pistorius could be entitled to separate accommodation "depending on the vulnerability caused by the disability".

There is little doubt that the prison system in South Africa is in a bad state, with violence, overcrowding and criminal behaviour all endemic.

Since the hearing began on Monday, the tone in court has become increasing terse.

Prosecutors have poured scorn on the defence's portrayal of the double amputee known as the "Blade Runner" as a caring and charitable athlete.

Nel told the sentencing hearing that Pistorius's charity work was nothing unusual for a superstar athlete, arguing he was primarily motivated by personal fame and fulfilling his contractual duties with major sponsors, including Oakley and Nike.

"It is merely an advancement of your career to become involved," Nel said in a scathing cross-examination of Pistorius's long-time manager, Peet van Zyl.

"I think a lot of sportsmen want to make a difference and contribute," replied Van Zyl.

The state has indicated it will call at least two witnesses, whose testimony is expected to wrap up on Wednesday or Thursday.

Both the state and defence have 14 days to appeal Masipa's decision.

The trial, which began on 3 March, was broadcast live on television and radio, feeding intense local and international media interest.

Read more on:    gerrie nel  |  reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  thokozile masipa  |  pistorius trial

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.


24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.