Oscar Pistorius, accused of the murder of model, Reeva Steenkamp in the Pretoria High Court in South Africa this month, greeted Mrs. June Steenkamp when he entered the courtroom this morning. A journalist sitting nearby reported hearing Pistorius say “morning m’am,” very softly, and saw her nod in response. On March 4, the day after the court case began, Reeva Steenkamp’s mother told the Today Show in a live interview that she was ready to forgive Pistorius and had been in court hoping to make contact with him by catching his eye. But he walked past her looking straight ahead. She said she didn’t wish him harm, and just wanted to know the truth. Today the contact she wanted happened.
Before the court resumed this morning, Oscar Pistorius’s sister Aimee (above right) was also seen talking to June Steenkamp (above left). This is not the first time Aimee has made an effort to approach the Steenkamp family. On March 6, during a tea adjournment, she was seen talking to Reeva’s cousin who reportedly squeezed Aimee’s arm before she got up and returned to the benches in the courtroom delegated for the Pistorius family.
But it has not been an easy ride for Reeva Steenkamp’s mother June who opted not to be in court last week when graphic evidence was presented that had Oscar sobbing and vomiting into a bucket. Today she left the courtroom several times when graphic photographs were presented in court – even though photographs of Reeva’s dead body were not being shown to an open court, but rather only to witnesses, the legal teams and the judge.
Interviewed by the official Oscar Pistorius channel after today’s proceedings, the African National Congress (ANC) Women’s League Jackie Mofokeng said June Steenkamp had left the room because she simply could not stand the sight of her daughter’s blood. Mofokeng said June Steenkamp did not have a problem with this evidence being shown in court, but could not be there herself to witness the evidence. For much of the day, the two women sat together in the area delegated for the Steenkamp family, which is where Jackie Mofokeng has been sitting for much of the time since the beginning of the trial. She is one of several ANCWL members who have made their presence felt at the trial, marching outside the building and carrying placards protesting against violence against women and other horrendous crimes.
Interviewed briefly by the Oscar Pistorius 199 channel, she said that Reeva Steenkamp’s mother June would be in the court for the rest of the week. She added that the other case the ANCWL wanted to make contact with was happening in the same building. This was the murder court dealing with a similar case where Thato Kutumela is accused of strangling and raping Zanele Khumalo, his 18-year-old girlfriend in April 2011. “We are also supporting the Khumalo family,” she said. Like Reeva Steenkamp, Zanele Khumalo was a beautiful model, but her case has not received much media attention.
Today the evidence focused mainly on photographs taken by the official police photographer Warrant Officer Barend (Bennie) van Staden, who organized his files into a series of 15 albums. These, he told the court represented his progressive photographic record of the crime scene that started at the front of the house.
Photographs included close-up shots of the bloodied cricket bat, the damaged toilet door and various blood spatters in the toilet. There was also photographic evidence of spatters of blood on the duvet in Pistorius’s bedroom and damage to the bedroom door. Van Staden said he had recorded the time of each picture using metadata from the camera, and only moved (or “disturbed”) items once they had been photographed. This followed questioning by the state prosecutor, Gerrie Nel regarding allegations by Pistorius’s defence advocate Barry Roux the previous day, that evidence at the crime scene had been tampered with.
As on previous occasions, Oscar Pistorius lowered his head and covered his eyes when blood-spattered scenes were shown on television screens in the courtroom. However today he was composed and did not cry or vomit.
A number of photographs of the crime scene have been shown in court, including several of Oscar Pistorius without his shirt and covered in blood. There was some dispute today about how many pictures had been taken, Roux insisting to van Staden that he had taken many more photographs than had been presented to the murder court. The photographer insisted he took only four initial photographs of the accused, and then a further five of his blood-spattered prosthetic limbs. At this point Reeva Steenkamp’s mother was not there to bear witness to the evidence, or make further contact with the accused. The Oscar Pistorius trial continues tomorrow.
By Penny Swift