Tears as Reeva's cousin remembers

2014-10-15 17:55
Reeva Steenkamps’ father, Barry, breaks down in court. (AFP)

Reeva Steenkamps’ father, Barry, breaks down in court. (AFP)

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Pretoria - Tears flowed in the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday as Kim Martin remembered holding her baby cousin Reeva Steenkamp at the age of 12 and years later hearing of her killing.

Martin also recalled how Oscar Pistorius seemed shy and not very affectionate towards Steenkamp, who was his girlfriend at the time in January 2013, a month before she was shot dead.

Steenkamp's father Barry sobbed silently, his shoulders shaking, as the court heard testimony from one of her relatives for the first time.

"Reeva was the first baby I ever held," Martin said, crying, to questions from prosecutor Gerrie Nel during sentencing proceedings.

She said she was nervous and excited when she first met her fun-loving and sociable cousin's boyfriend, but said she did not notice much affection between the couple.

Martin said an announcement on the radio that Pistorius shot his girlfriend was the first time she heard of Steenkamp's death, while she was stuck in rush-hour traffic with her husband.

"I said 'I hope to God he's cheating on Reeva'," Martin said.

"I had no idea. I was just praying that it wasn't Reeva."

As she spoke Pistorius kept his head down, covering his eyes with his hand.

"I got on my phone and I tried to phone her and she wasn't answering and I started screaming."

When they arrived at her mother's house and she saw that she was hysterical, Martin knew it was Steenkamp.

"And it was, for me, the end of the world. Everything was a blur from there onwards," she said.

Martin told the court that Barry and June Steenkamp were in financial difficulty and her model and law graduate cousin always wanted to help them out financially and look after them. She was very family-orientated, the court heard.

The court heard that Steenkamp moved from Port Elizabeth to get out of an emotionally abusive relationship.

After a horse riding accident, where she broke her back, Steenkamp decided to pursue her modelling career after completing her LLB degree.

Culpable homicide

On 12 September, Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide for the Valentine's Day 2013 shooting of his girlfriend in his Pretoria townhouse. The court found him not guilty of murdering Steenkamp.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp through the locked door of the toilet, apparently thinking she was an intruder about to emerge and attack him. She was hit in the hip, arm, and head.

Martin said she decided to testify in the sentencing procedures of Pistorius because Steenkamp needed a voice.

"I knew I had to be here, I had to do this, I had to do this for Reeva, I owe her this," an emotional Martin said.

"I know Reeva needs a voice. My way of looking at this is to pay her back for what she meant to me."

Martin said she spoke to Steenkamp's parents on Tuesday because she was worried she would disappoint them when she took the stand and spoke about family matters.

She said Barry told her that she could never disappoint them and that she had their blessing and needed to be "Reeva's voice".

According to Martin, Barry said he would "just lose it" if he had to take the stand.

Pistorius was also found guilty of firing a pistol under a table at Tasha's restaurant in Johannesburg in January 2013. He was found not guilty of shooting through the open sunroof of a car in Modderfontein on 30 September 2012, and of illegal possession of ammunition.

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

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