Oscar Pistorius Case: Steenkamp Parents Criticise Verdict | WakaWaka Reporters
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Oscar Pistorius Case: Steenkamp Parents Criticise Verdict

The parents of Reeva Steenkamp, killed by Oscar Pistorius, have made their strongest criticism of the verdict in his murder trial.

“What actually came out in court is not the truth,” her father Barry Steenkamp told Australia’s Channel Seven TV.

Pistorius had been due for early release from prison but it was blocked by a South African minister last week.

The Paralympic star was jailed for five years in 2014 for culpable homicide, a charge equivalent to manslaughter.

The Olympic athlete admits shooting dead Ms Steenkamp, but insists he mistook her for an intruder.

But this was dismissed by Mr Steenkamp: “He got angry, she went off to the toilet, locked herself inside, and then him pulling out the gun and shooting.”

“Why didn’t he just let her walk away?” her mother June Steenkamp said, reiterating the family’s belief that Pistorius killed Ms Steenkamp deliberately.

Until now, the Steenkamps have been fairly coy with the media, saying they held no hatred or even feelings of anger towards Pistorius – they simply wanted to know the truth about what happened that fateful night.

Why the new, tougher tone?

Perhaps the reality that the athlete will soon be out of prison and able to resume some form of normal life was all too much for the grieving family who last week marked what would have been Reeva’s 32nd birthday.

The prosecution has always said that Pistorius murdered his girlfriend in a fit of rage but Judge Thokozile Masipa said this had not been proven.

In the end, the gripping evidence from neighbours who said they had heard arguing on the night of the killing, and the terse text messages from Pistorius to his girlfriend became a sideshow.

The much publicised trial was a double-edged sword for South Africa’s judicial system – while the case gave ordinary citizens a front-row seat inside a courtroom, the ruling perpetuated the perception that people with money are above the law here.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha last week said that the decision to free the athlete after serving 10 months of his five-year sentence had been taken prematurely.

He has now suspended the decision and sent it back to the parole board for review, a process which could take months, legal sources have told the BBC.

Under South African law, Pistorius is eligible for release under “correctional supervision”, having served a sixth of his sentence.

Prosecutors have lodged an appeal, calling for the athlete’s conviction to be converted to murder, which carries a minimum sentence of 15 years.

During sentencing, Judge Thokozile Masipa said the state had failed to prove Pistorius’ intent to kill when he fired.

Pistorius was born without the fibulas in both of his legs, and had surgery to amputate both below the knee while still a baby.

He went on to become one of South Africa’s best-known sports stars, and was the first amputee sprinter to compete against able-bodied athletes, at the 2012 London Olympics.