A card entered as evidence in the murder trial of Paralympian runner Oscar Pistorius, featured the words “I love you” written by his slain lover, Reeva Steenkamp. She had given him the card and a gift the day before Valentine’s Day and had told him to only open it the following day. Having told Oscar in the card that she loved him, only hours into Valentine’s Day 2013, he shot four bullets through a closed toilet door at his luxurious Pretoria home, and killed her.
Referring to February 14, 2013 as the day “when the accident happened,” Pistorius said the envelope in which the card had been placed had his nickname, “Ozzie” written on it, together with hearts and a squiggle. With the card in his hand, he said it read, “roses are red, violets are blue,” as well as “I think today is a good day to tell you that … I love you,” the latter three words appearing under the printed words, “happy valentine’s day.” The card was signed by Reeva, who had also drawn a smiley face and three kisses in the form of xxx at the bottom of the page. The gift, wrapped in striped red, white and blue wrapping paper, with a packet of pink and white, heart-shaped sweets stuck to the parcel, contained a photo frame with four pictures of Reeva and Oscar Pistorius together.
The 27-year-old athlete, who is popularly known as the blade-runner, told the court he did not open the gift or card that day, but kept them until what would have been Reeva’s 30th birthday, in August last year. There was no reason given for Oscar Pistorius entering the card as evidence during his re-examination by defense advocate Barry Roux, after being cross-examined by State prosecutor Gerrie Nel, rather than when he gave evidence-in-chief last week. Apart from spelling out to the court that Reeva told him she loved him the very day he killed her, no additional evidence was linked to the Valentine’s Day card.
Pistorius spent nearly seven days in the witness-box, four of which were under harsh cross-examination by Nel. The second witness called by his defense team, he vehemently denied shooting at the toilet door with the intention to kill. At the end of his cross-examination, Nel asked him, “Who can we blame for shooting Reeva?” His answer was, that he believed there was a “threat” on his life. But, said Nel, “Who should we blame? Should we blame Reeva?” to which Pistorius replied, “No. I don’t know who we should blame.”
From the start of his cross-examination of Pistorius, Nel has tried to force him to take responsibility for the death of Steenkamp. “We cannot blame you for having shot and killed Reeva? You are not to blame?” Again Pistorius answered that he believed there was someone coming out of the toilet cubicle to shoot him. “You killed Reeva and you are the only person who can tell the truth,” responded Nel, asking who could be blamed “for the black talon rounds that ripped through her body.”
Your version is not only untruthful, but it is so improbable that it cannot be reasonably, possibly true.
State prosecutor Advocate Gerrie Nel
Nel then closed his cross-examination of the accused by reiterating the guts of the state case. He said that on his argument “the court will make” certain findings. In spite of an objection by Roux that he could not be sure whether or not the court would make these findings, Nel repeated the sentence and went on to say that court would find “on the objective facts and circumstantial evidence” that Reeva had eaten no more than two hours before Pistorius shot and killed her. The court would also find that state witness Mrs. van der Merwe (a neighbor) had heard Reeva arguing with Pistorius and that the blood-curdling screams that witnesses Johnson, Burger and both Stipps (also neighbors) heard were not his, but Reeva’s as she “escaped” from him. “You shot four shots through the door whilst knowing she was standing behind the door.“
You armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing her; and that’s what you did. Afterwards you were overcome by what you had done – that is true.
State prosecutor Advocate Gerrie Nel
Nel told Pistorius that he accepted all his evidence from the time he picked up Reeva in the bloodied toilet cubicle the day he killed her, and carried her downstairs. This did happen, Nel said and was not disputed. Everything else, however, was in dispute. The card in which Reeva told Oscar Pistorius that she loved him had not yet been presented as evidence, and so Nel did not comment on it or its contents.
By Penny Swift