For me one of the most upsetting facts about this trial was that Oscar’s defence built their case around the so called hidden intruder, Oscar believing an intruder was captive in his bathroom, fired four shots through a locked door, only to discover that his girlfriend - Reeva Steenkamp, had taken refuge there during the commotion.
This cold blooded and calculated action set the tone of the trial, because in Pretoria its excusable to shoot and kill an intruder when they’ve entered your secured and gated mansion, even if you’re not in any physical danger, even if the intruder has made no verbal threat to your physical well being, even if the intruder has locked themselves in a small room for their own safety. In fact in South Africa even if you haven’t seen the intruder but there is a good chance of an intruder being present, its best to shoot to kill, rather than firing a warning shot in an attempt to identify those present, or those potentially present.
This ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ mindset is what created such a storm around this case, because Pistorius pulled that trigger in a calculated and premeditated fashion which resulted in the death of a young woman.
Reeva Steenkamp was a model, a law graduate, and a domestic violence campaigner. Last year the world waited attentively as the state prosecution put forth their case that Oscar Pistorius had argued violently with her on the night she was murdered, and in an irrational moment fired four shots at her, causing the three fatal wounds which resulted in her brutal death.
The prosecution so convinced of this that in their closing argument they stated that Pistorius’ version of events was a snowball of lies. The defence cited that the trajectory of the three bullets that hit the model in the hip, arm and head showed she was standing behind the door and facing it (possibly screaming at him through the door), and not backing away as she would have been if she thought there was an intruder in the house.
Prior to firing the weapon Pistorius claims he called out to his girlfriend to call the police, believing she was still down the hall in their bedroom, but there was no reply. This is one of the hardest facts to swallow. I find it very hard to believe that at this point the victim would have remained completely silent.
For me the weirdest moment in the trial was after five witnesses testified that on the night Steenkamp died they heard a woman screaming followed by gunshots, proving that the couple had argued prior to Pistorius fetching his gun, but the defence successfully argued that this was in fact Pistorius screaming for help, and the loud bangs were from his cricket bat breaking down the bathroom door.
This was followed by the most chilling revelation, text messages from Reeva Steenkamp to Pistorius three weeks before her murder in which she told Pistorius "I'm scared of you sometimes, of how you snap at me", and described his behaviour as "nasty". These messages showed that there was a history of abuse in their relationship, however the defence produced valentines cards and such to demonstrate it was a loving union, sugar coating over the arguments and an obvious truth was swept aside without any further evidence of domestic violence.
So the trial concluded and Pistorius to everyone’s shock was given a ten month prison sentence having been convicted of manslaughter. For me this is a sentence which can only be described as one of the most individual cases of injustice in the history of mankind. The perpetrator not only admitting to killing the victim, but he admitted to willingly killing her in a state of confusion. The most infuriating thing is that the world stood listening to his snowball of lies, convinced he was guilty and feeling shame for the country which let him free, but we can do nothing more than remember this young women who died from such a horrific act of domestic violence.