From hero to villain, from fame to notoriety, Oscar Pistorius has been in the news for the best part of the last decade.
His website, oscarpistorius.com, has the following statement on the home-page:
“14 February 2014
No words can adequately capture my feelings about the devastating accident that has caused such heartache for everyone who truly loved – and continues to love Reeva.
The pain and sadness – especially for Reeva’s parents, family and friends consumes me with sorrow.
The loss of Reeva and the complete trauma of that day, I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Following the tragic event and the enormous global interest, the family of Oscar Pistorius has taken the decision to devote his official website to the latest news about developments as well as messages of support.
The website will provide the opportunity for the media to make enquiries or requests but for understandable legal reasons it may not always be possible to respond or comment.
The Pistorius family and Oscar’s management company have been inundated with messages of support and condolences for Oscar and for the family of Reeva Steenkamp from all over the world.
Mr Arnold Pistorius, uncle of Oscar, said on behalf of the family: ‘We believe that this is an appropriate way to deal with the expressions of support we have received as well as keeping the media informed about any key developments in the case.
We have every confidence as a family that when the world has heard the full evidence that this will prove to be a terrible and tragic accident which has changed many lives forever. We are praying for everyone touched by this tragedy.’”
The web-site does not deliver what it promises. At least, not right now.
All the links are broken: a reflection, perhaps, of a broken man.
Oscar Pistorius was born on 22 November, 1986.
His parents were Henke and Sheila Pistorius.
Oscar is a middle child amongst three; he has an elder brother Carl and a younger sister Aimée.
His legs were amputated half-way between his knees and ankles when he was 11 months old after he was diagnosed with fibular hemimelia (congenital absence of the fibula) in both legs.
Pistorius was quite the ‘sport’ while in school participating in rugby, water polo, tennis and wrestling.
When he was 18, he was introduced to running post a serious rugby knee injury.
Pistorius began sprinting in January 2004.
He qualified for the Athens Paralympic Games that year and won bronze in the 100 metres and gold in the 200m.
Pistorius never looked back since.
His sporting motto, “You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have,” was a source of inspiration for many.
He reached the pinnacle of his sporting achievements when he was allowed to participate in the 2012 London Olympics representing South Africa in the 400 metres and the 4 X 400 metres relay. He also carried his country’s flag at the closing ceremony.
The sprinter was deemed ineligible to participate in the 2008 Summer Olympics when Cologne Sports University’s Professor of Biomechanics Dr. Peter Brüggemann ruled that Pistorius “has considerable advantages over athletes without prosthetic limbs who were tested by us. It was more than just a few percentage points. I did not expect it to be so clear.”
Pistorius appealed against the adverse decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland. His protest was upheld.
The CAS panel determined Pistorous had no net advantage over able-bodied athletes especially when considering the handicap he suffered in comparison to normal athletes when starting and accelerating.
Pustorius was thus able to participate in the 2012 London Summer Olympics fulfilling his dream of representing his country alongside normal athletes.
Pistorius is the recipient of numerous awards including Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze (OIB) by the President of South Africa for outstanding achievement in sports, BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award in 2007, Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability for 2012 and a honorary doctorate from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
He also made the Time 100 twice—in 2008 and 2012.
This could very well have been a ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ fairy-tale ending.
Alas, it was not to be.
Pistorius hit the headlines again the following year when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp allegedly mistaking her for a possible intruder.
The disabled athlete—after a six-month trial—was convicted on one charge of culpable homicide, two counts of negligent use of a firearm and one count of possession of illegal ammunition.
Judge Thokosile Masipa did not find Pistorius guilty of murder with direct intent or common murder (dolus eventualis).
The amputee claimed that he believed that he was firing on an intruder who had broken into his house.
The claim is plausible enough given that home robbery or home invasions are a growing problem across all provinces in South Africa.
2012 National Victims of Crime Survey (NVCS) states that half of households surveyed feared this type of crime.
“‘Home robbery’, unlike ‘house breaking’ (burglary), is regarded as a violent crime because people are at home when it takes place. This puts people at risk of personal injury and emotional trauma in the place where they should feel safest. “
The 2012 Survey also states that home robbery increased nationally by 64.4% over the past eight years.
While the fear of this kind of crime is high, it is a relatively rare occurence. Only 4.5% of households experienced a home robbery between January 2007 and December 2011.
The survey further states:
“75% of home robberies occur at night, with the most vulnerable times being in the late evening between 21:00 and 23:59 and very early morning between 00:00 and 02:59. More than half (55%) of home robberies take place at these times, in all likelihood because people’s guards are down when they are relaxing or asleep. Two-thirds (66%) of home robberies are committed by small groups of two to three robbers. Most robbers were said to be males between 15 and 34 years of age.
Weapons were used in almost all cases (99.9%) by those committing home robberies.”
Pistorius’ case has since gone to appeal to the Supreme Court. The State hopes to overturn the verdict of culpable homicide and either force a retrial or a resentencing. The double amputee could face up to 15 years in prison under the new charges.
The Paralympian was sentenced to five years in prison but is now out on bail after serving ten months in prison.
Reeva Steenkamp’s mother June was forgiving and accepting of the reduced sentence on Pistorius.
“I’ve got no feelings of revenge. I don’t want to hurt him; he is already a disabled person. I didn’t want him to be thrown in jail and be suffering because I don’t wish suffering on anyone, and that’s not going to bring Reeva back. But in my heart, I don’t want revenge towards him. I’m past that. Once you have told God that you forgive, you have to forgive. And I don’t want him to suffer …. I would certainly not want to hurt another human being. One has to forgive to move on, otherwise you become ill. For God expects you to forgive, and until you’ve done that, you can’t move forward in any way.”
June added that she still has “nightmares about what happened to her when she was trapped behind that door and how she died”.
“Sometimes I wake up at 3 in the morning and that’s the first thing that comes in my head and I couldn’t be there to protect her from that.She couldn’t move in that toilet, she couldn’t move a centimetre either way to get out of the way of the firing – she was like a trapped animal in that toilet. We didn’t know he had guns, we didn’t know anything about him actually.”
“Maybe if he wasn’t so famous…I think if he would have just been a normal guy in the street he would have maybe had a stiffer sentence”.
Oscar Pistorius was most recently in the news celebrating his 29th birthday at his uncle’s mansion.
The sprinter is now the same age as his deceased girlfriend.
Oscar Pistorius was today found guilty of murder by the South African Appeals Court. The fresh sentence will be pronounced later.
‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius continues to be in the fight of his life.
The Paralympian and Olympian’s freedom centres around the State’s appeal to the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the previous verdict of culpable homicide.
State advocate Gerrie Nel is arguing that the verdict returned should have been murder instead—in effect, a call for a stiffer sentence for the amputee.
Pistorius was earlier sentenced to a five-year term in prison. He has since been released after serving ten months. He was expected to finish the rest of his sentence at his uncle’s Waterkloof home under strict bail conditions. South African laws permit prisoners to released after serving one-sixth of their sentence if they are deemed not a threat to society.
If Pistorius is convicted of murder, he will face at least 15 years behind bars.
The South African was convicted of killing his then model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
The athlete fired four shots through a toilet door claiming there was an intruder in his luxury Silver Lakes, Pretoria, house.
The bullets killed Steenkamp.
The new judgment hinges on Pistorius’ state of mind when he let loose the volley of shots—whether he believed that they would kill.
The judges have to take into account that the defendant is handicapped and would have been unable to escape easily from his home.
Professor Stephen Tucson, who teaches criminal law and procedure at Wits University, believes that the State has a strong case.
“The consensus of opinion seems to suggest that the SCA has the power to change the verdict. There are two options. If they say there was an error and order a new trial, it will go to any other judge but a re-sentencing… will go back to Judge Masipa.”
(This is part I in a series).