Representatives for Olympian blade-runner Oscar Pistorius have announced that Pistorius is selling the Pretoria home where he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to enable him to pay for his murder trial. The announcement was posted in the form of a media statement on his official website, oscarpistorius.com by Brian Webber of Ramsay Webber Inc on Thursday.
Ramsay Webber are the attorneys that along with Advocates Kenny Oldwage and Barry Roux, are representing the Olympian and Para-Olympian athlete who has admitted to shooting Steemkamp dead, but who has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.
While Ramsay Webber does not list murder trials as an area of specialty on its website, Oldwage, a leading member of the defense team has an excellent reputation in this field. It was he who successfully defended the man who killed Nelson Mandela’s great-grandchild Zenani in 2002. Sizwe Mankazana had been charged with culpable homicide as well as reckless and negligent driving, and driving while under the influence of alcohol. Mankazana lost control of the car he was driving and then smashed into Zenani, killing him. Mankazana was declared not guilty of the offence.
Barry Roux, Pistorius’s primary advocate, is one of the best and has earned celebrity status during the first three weeks of the world-famous blade-runenr’s trial. He alone is said to be earning anything from R50,000 to R100,000 ($4,500 to $9,000 or more) every day he is in court.
According to Webber’s media statement, the reason extra funds will be needed by Oscar Pistorius are because of the “unexpected expected extension of the trial” which was originally set down for three weeks, from March 3 to 20. The trial has now been extended until Friday May 16. There will be a court recess for one week, from April 7 to 11, which will reduce this period of time effectively by a week. The state prosecutor Gerrie Nel said on Wednesday March 19, when the court was last in session that he wanted to wrap up the prosecution’s case in another four to five days.
In his online statement, Webber said it was clear that the legal process would last “significantly longer than originally indicated by the State.” He did not say how long the prosecution’s case was likely to take.
The Pistorius murder-house in Silver Woods, Pretoria is, according to Webber, the blade runner’s “single biggest asset.” This is why he to needs to “urgently dispose” of it. Even though the authorities did hand the house back to the accused shortly after the murder last year, the accused has never returned and says he could never contemplate living there, or even going back. He had decided to keep the house “sealed” until the trial was over, but the need for additional finance has made him change his mind.
When Oscar Pistorius was arrested after the shooting last year, and he had to come up with 1 million Rand (around $913,000), it was stated that he had a “declared income” of R5.6 million ($514,000). It was also stated that he had about R8.8 million ($808,000) in various cash investments and property assets including the house in Pretoria, a vacant stand in Langebaan, and another property in the Western Cape. It was already public knowledge that the legal team came “at a hefty price tag.” So the fact that he is now selling the home where he shot Reeva because he has to find the megabucks that will be required to pay for his trial is not a big surprise. It is going to be a very expensive trial.
The case, which resumes tomorrow, has attracted worldwide attention. At the start it was reported that at least 500 journalists were in court. While the media volumes appear to have reduced a little, there is still an overflow court where reporters who can’t get into the court itself can see the court proceedings on a large screen. This overflow court is also considered to be part of the court where Judge Thokozile Masipa presides.
In the past three weeks, the prosecution has led evidence that relates to what witnesses heard on the night of the murder, as well as what several state employees found on the scene and during the murder investigations. There has been evidence about shouts, screams and what might have been slamming noises that came from a cricket bat. There has also been evidence that relates to the toilet door that Oscar Pistorius shot through and the damage that was made by gunshots and the cricket bat.
There has been evidence about the blade runner’s love of guns and stories of how he shot guns in public places. But there has also been a lot of evidence about police bungling and how, for example, police forensic experts handled the murder weapon without gloves and how others moved evidence at the crime scene.
Graphic photographs taken at the crime scene have been presented in court, including those of the blood splattered toilet and the bedroom where the couple, according to Pistorius, went to sleep just hours prior to the killing. The toilet door Pistorius shot through, killing Steenkamp, is a prime piece of evidence.
At the start of the trial, it was stated by the prosecution that 107 possible witnesses had been identified. So far only 18 have testified. Those who might still be called to give evidence for the state include Johan Stander, the estate manager whom the accused states he called immediately after killing Steenkamp. Others named by the state as possible witnesses include Steenkamp’s former boyfriend, Warren Lahoud, and another of Pistorius’s ex-girlfriends, Melissa Rom. The state has also listed Oscar Pistorius’s sister Aimee, his father Henke, and his uncle Arnold as possible state witnesses.
Whatever happens in the weeks to come, the fact is that Oscar Pistorius is selling the home where he shot Reeva Steenkamp dead, because he needs to pay the best lawyers in the country to pay for his trial.
By Penny Swift