South Africa’s leading Sunday newspaper, the Sunday Times has published a report that claims Oscar Pistorius lied to its reporters about his relationship with Reeva Steenkamp and denied that he had been assaulted in December 2012. The headline on page one of today’s paper reports, “Oscar is a liar,” with the word “is” underlined in red. Pistorius is standing trial for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp whom he admits shooting dead at his home in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year. He maintains it was a dreadful mistake and that he is not guilty of murder.
Almost four full pages of today’s Sunday Times are devoted to stories about the famous athlete whose sensational trial in Pretoria is being covered by hundreds of journalists from all over the world. There is also a four-page wrap-around, advertising Samsung’s Galaxy S5 that features the top half of the paper’s front page (above).
The lead story titled, Oscar is a liar reveals how Pistorius denied being assaulted in 2012, allegedly to “save his image,” and also lied about being in “a serious relationship” with Reeva Steenkamp in mid-January last year. Critical to his defense is his claim that he and Reeva were in a serious relationship and very much in love. However according to the Sunday Times front-page article, he denied mid-January that he was in a serious relationship and told a reporter he was “not ready for anything serious.”
In evidence before the court on Tuesday, Pistorius said that he and Reeva had spent November and December getting to know one another, and by mid-January had really started caring about one another, and were talking about “seeing a future together.” Pistorius also told the court that he thought he was “more into” Reeva that she was into him.
This week Pistorius also talked about the assault incident, denying that he had threatened to break former soccer star Marc Batchelor’s legs. It all linked to a wealthy “playboy” Mr. Quinton van der Burgh who had taken Samantha Taylor, his former girlfriend overseas on a supposed “work trip” while he was at the Olympics, he said. After confronting van den Burgh at a race-track meeting at Kyalami north of Johannesburg, he received an “intimidation letter.” Batchelor became involved when he and Taylor went to Sun City together soon afterwards. There was an argument and Pistorius ended up needing stitches to the back of his head.
According to today’s Sunday Times lead article, reporter Gabi Mbele was tipped off about the assault incident in January last year, but Pistorius denied it, and both he and Steenkamp asked her not to write the story. Steenkamp told Mbele that Pistorius was concerned that if the story was published it would “ruin his reputation.” It was not published because Mbele could not find anyone who was able to confirm the incident.
Today the Sunday Times newspaper published what it called several other lies told by Oscar Pistorius in the past, backing up the report that he “is a liar.” One was a claim he made to have bought a McLaren supercar that turned out to be a demo model he had borrowed from his friend Justin Divaris’ dealership. He had been quoted in an interview saying it was “a gift I got for myself” for Christmas. He was also quoted in a magazine interview as saying he owned property in Italy. In his bail hearing he denied owning property overseas.
Other stories in today’s Sunday Times included:
- A report from Friday’s hearing, ‘You killed her, Mr Pistorius. Why don’t you just say it?
- A summary of Pistorius’ evidence, From hero to zero in a sea of courtroom tears
- A lawyer’s comment on Pistorius’ “performance” in the witness stand, Lawyer believes state has Blade Runner on the run
- An article written by a psychologist about how Pistorius has “charmed the world into believing his idealized picture of himself,” The broken little boy made big by blades and guns
- An article written by a psychotherapist who is also a broadcaster and writer, that discusses how the trial, “a cocktail of crime, passion and murder mystery” has captivated people in the United Kingdom: Cocktail of crime and passion captivates voyeuristic Britons
- Commentary on Pistorius’ “fall from grace,” The special fury reserved for yesterday’s hero
Throughout last week State prosecutor, Gerrie Nel accused Pistorius of not taking responsibility for Reeva’s murder, and for not being truthful and for being a liar. Judge Thokozile Masipa warned him not to call the accused a liar while he was in the witness-box.
In an interview with the British Daily Mail, Reeva’s older sister Simone Steenkamp has also branded him a liar, and a “disgusting” one at that. According to the interview, there is no doubt in her mind that Pistorius is lying, particularly when it came to attempting to convince the court that the pair were close and that he cared for her. “It is not true,” she said.
Simone, 48, was living in England, but moved back to South Africa to be with her parents after the murder. She has been seen in court with her mother, June. She said in the interview that she found Pistorius’ attitude in court abhorrent. She maintained he had been “smirking” in the dock, and behaving like the star of the show during adjournments. “I do not understand how anyone could commit that act – kill someone – and behave like that,” she said.
Oscar Pistorius’ Defense
Prof. James Grant, an Associate Professor of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg is another person who cannot understand Pistorius’ behavior in court – but for other reasons. He maintains in an article on a criminal law website that the way Pistorius has answered questions in his defense seems to indicate that he is not sure what his defense is.
Grant compares murder – the unlawful and intentional killing of another person (which is what Pistorius has been charged with) – with culpable homicide – the “negligent unlawful killing” of another person. He explains in the article that there is no criminal liability for intentionally killing someone in self-defense. He points out that until Pistorius was put on the stand, his defense was “putative private-defense”, that he thought he could act in self-defense and in so doing kill. This is accepted as a valid defense in law.
Since he took the stand last week, however, Pistorius has claimed that he fired at the toilet door accidentally, saying it was “a mistake.” This, says Grant is a completely different story in law, and that it amounts to an involuntary action. Pistorius also claimed in court last week that he did not pull the trigger of the gun that went off in Tasha’s restaurant. This would amount to another involuntary action, he said.
If the defense is that the accused lawfully intended to kill an intruder in self-defense, “it makes no sense to deny having intended to kill anyone.” Grant’s “crucial question” is why is he “so unclear about his defense that it seems to change as he testifies on the stand?” Nel clearly believes it is because he is lying. The Sunday Times newspaper echoes Nel in its reports that Oscar Pistorius is a liar.
Commentary by Penny Swift