Lying in the Sun

Pistorius Performs Act 1

Pistorius Performs - Act 1

Gerrie Nel the Prosecutor pretty much chewed up and spat out the Defence Pathologist!  Would have thought Barry Roux would have prepped his witness more thoroughly!

Round 1 this morning definitely to Gerrie Nel!

Up next was Oscar Pistorius.  

We had the head in hands, retching, grovelling, snivelling, and oh of course the conniving...all that was missing were the violins... 

Oh how he immediately became tearful and stated that he wanted to start his evidence by first making an apology to tender an apology to Mr and Mrs Steenkamp.

"I would like to take this opportunity erm to apologise to erm Mr and Mrs Steenkamp, to Reeva's family, erm to those of you who knew her who are here today....

There has not been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven’t woke up and thought of your family...."

Blah blah blah, I think you get the picture!

Barry Roux led him through what they had, as we all know rehearsed for many weeks now...born with a disability, legs amputated below the knee.  Parents separating when he was 6 years old.  Mother re-marrying when he was 14 years old.   His mother dying when he was 15 years old.  The family not being financially well off.  And a couple times at junior school he was bullied.   Just like any other kid then!

How his mother kept a gun under her pillow and how on a couple of occasions she had phoned police thinking there may be an intruder, but false alarm. When this happened she took her children to her room beside her.  How they didn't live in the best of areas.

All sounds pretty much like what South African life is like for millions, only probably one hell of a lot worse than anything Pistorius, the boy who attended boarding school ever experienced.

Now no one can take from this young man his sporting achievements, it is truly amazing what he faced to become the sports person he is.  But that is not what this case is about.  He took the life of a young woman, Miss Reeva Steenkamp, and why he did this is what has to be discovered.

Of course Barry Roux will try to paint a picture of the hard done by child, disadvantaged,  due to physical disability which he did, only thing was Pistorius, and I don't say this in a derogatory manner, but he was flunking his lines at times he seemed to have forgotten down which path Roux was trying to lead him, or perhaps Roux didn't explain it clearly enough to him beforehand.

On one hand we had Roux the picture he tried to paint was of a mother, terrified at night, keeping a gun under her pillow, and of how this had somehow rubbed off on the young Oscar who then grew up to be paranoid about his personal safety.

Is that not for the most part, life in South Africa?

Yet we also had heard Pistorius to tell the Court of how his mother 'didn't take shit from no one!'  And of how she had instilled this in her offspring!   He told the story of how his mother was called to school as Pistorius had been fighting.  She took no nonsense from teachers and told them not to call her back again she believed in sticking up for oneself.

We could interpret Mrs Pistorius, keeping a gun under her pillow, and keeping her kids close while she phoned police and waited for their arrival, ready to blow the head off  anyone who dared walk through her door, as something all mothers would if they lived in SA and truly thought their kids were in danger.  Something all mothers would do anywhere in the world if their children were in danger, keep them close, at the ready to protect them no matter what.

Or we could interpret that as some nervous little mother who was paranoid and phoned police repeatedly with false alarms, and that little Oscar grew up just to be like his Mother!  Even down to screaming like a girl.  Which was not spoken about in today's evidence but it won't be long before that is added to the mix.

But when we listened to Oscar Pistorius he spoke of a mum, who was a woman not to be messed with, that much was clear.  A very loving mum, just not to be messed with.

He also spoke of his time at boarding school which he attended with his brother and which he loved and how he made lots friends a great mix of friends, how he had a wonderful mum, soft hearted who loved them, and of close family who he stayed with during school holidays etc.

Sounds like he had a pretty nice life just as it should be for all children, but sadly that's not case.

He also had Pistorius tell of a boating accident where he received serious injury, how when he travels his stumps become painful if he has to wear the prosthetics to travel by plane particularly, how during sport the skin on the stumps can bleed etc etc   Oh and that after the boating accident he became even more paranoid about safety....(see where this was going, can't you...)  Guy didn't live on a boat though!

We heard how he has no balance when on his stumps, that if his dog bounced into the room it could knock him over, and of how the heel pads on his feet, when his legs were amputated below the knee, were then surgically transplanted onto his stumps.   That his left 'knee pad' had since moved round to the back of the stump, limiting his movement (he needs surgery to correct this, but he has never found the time to book hospital appointment for procedure due to athletic commitments)...and we can see where he is going with this one too...the no balance on his stumps, movement, rotation etc etc....

Everything today was much as was to be expected by the Defence... 

And Roux, had Pistorius tell the Court of the medication he is prescribed for depression and to help him sleep....Sorry, I would list them but I lost count, gave up on that one...

Oh and of how on an occasion he woke up in a panic, a nightmare about that night, the smell of blood, smell blood, and popped in to cupboard, called his sister, who lives 'close' he said  to come sit with him until  panic was over.  And he said he doesn't want to be around guns any more and that he has a security guy who stays outside his door.

"I don’t want to be around firearms again.  I have a security guard who stays outside my door."

Realistically though, where else could Barry Roux go in trying to defend this guy, the only route was to try and portray Pistorius as some poor guy who had a hard life.   Somehow I don't think the South African public will buy this...nor anyone else, but when it is all Roux has...

Only one person though who has to '
buy it' and that is the Judge!  

That said there was of course someone who appeared to have swallowed it, hook, line and sinker....

Sky News


Jeremy Thomson:

Alex, what a morning and you must have seen an awful lot more than us as well?

Alex Crawford:

Well the thing that struck me most was how much his family were affected by this they were all in front of us,  literally the row in front of us, his uncle his aunt his cousins, his brother his sister all of them crying feeling terribly upset at listening to his testimony basically detailing just…also how much in pain he and the rest of the family has felt from this, and I think that began early this morning when he was listening to the Defence  pathologist outline his…Reeva Steenkamp’s injuries and wounds and we had close up, very very close up pictures of her wounds as well as a detailed description of her injuries, and again we saw him retching in the recess at 11 o'clock around about then.  He was sobbing so loudly everyone could hear it in the Court, and his brother and sister again rallied round him as well as one of the team of psychologists I understand who are helping him with therapy and counselling him through this.

And I think the picture you got today was the backbone of the Defence which is, that this is a young man who has not had a normal life, so I’m sure the Defence case will be he didn’t react normally, he had an almost pathological fear of crime and security which started from his mother from his childhood being a little boy sitting on his mother’s bed whilst his mother was calling police and had a fire arm under her own pillow. 
So he has grown up, this is the picture the Defence is giving, he has grownup feeling terribly disadvantaged not least because he didn’t have any legs but because he felt terribly vulnerable without his prosthetics on but also in a climate of fear and this I’m sure the Defence will be saying is what led him to react as he did. 

And, also his lips were trembling he was struggling to keep his composure as he was addressing June Steenkamp, and he turned away to actually face her, and he said he tried many times to write her a letter to ask her forgiveness and you felt you, this was a man struggling to keep control and again Barry Roux had to say I know you wanted to face June Steenkamp but you have to turn this way so that everyone can hear you.  And I think what you felt was that the Pistorious side were absolutely falling apart as they were listening to all this raw pain.  June Steenkamp, and the... and that side the Myers, very very close friends and family were very tough putting on this very very strong tough exterior and not breaking down at all.   I think there is a lot of anger still there... naturally.


After that Pistorius seemed to settle down seemed to gather his composer after those opening moments but there were more tears shed when I think he smiles when he spoke of his mother who was the biggest influence in his life but then he seemed to be tearful when he remembered finding out she was dying and...


That was a very emotional time, and very emotional for the siblings as well, and the aunts, I mean this is where they were all dissolving into tears as well, talking about as a young boy they were at boarding school he and his brother, and the first they heard about his mother being ill was when she'd  already gone into a coma and they rushed to her bedside.  I think there is no doubt he relied a lot on his mother and she gave him the moral guidance the moral counselling though his childhood, and he lost her at a very early age, at age 15 and this is obviously still very raw, and perhaps might also explain why the siblings are a so such a tight knit group, as every time there is a break in the Court proceedings Amy his sister literally rushes to his side, it’s almost like she is living through every single pain he is going through!


But he mentioned that didn’t he, in his opening statement, he basically said that she lives on the same property as him and if he has a panic attack in the night he gets into a cupboard and he calls her and she comes to calm him down.   I mean it’s been a difficult...


The two of them are living in Uncle Arnold Pistorius house which is a very nice large property in a very upmarket area of Pretoria.  They've been looking after Amy since she was a very young child but obviously Oscar has moved back in since all this happened as part of his bail conditions.

And I thought that was very vivid that he wakes up in the middle of the night, talking about smelling blood and feeling so petrified, he has to call for his younger sister who you remember he spent his whole life, he detailed in his autobiography, he spent his whole life protecting his younger sister, and now the situation is reversed, and remember one of the first people he called were his brother and sister.   His brother clearly called his sister and they were on the scene gathering things for him, and I think that what the Defence is trying to show that he had so many disadvantages and had so much against him yet he overcame a lot of them them physically but perhaps never overcame his paranoia about security.


Yeah, no foolin' Alex, she knows what her pal Barry is up to!

And so sad and very telling, that the thing that struck Alex Crawford most was the distress of the Pistorius family!  Unbelievable!  Crawford seems blind to the presence of the Steenkamp family, their existence, when she is in Court, reporting on this case.

What is interesting also, is that Pistorius told the Court of how he has trouble sleeping has nightmares about what happened that night, thinks he smells blood, would rather not sleep if it means he has to wake up in this way in a panic.  He told of how one night he popped into the cupboard and phoned his sister who lives close, to come sit by him to calm him.  Of how he doesn't want to be near firearms again, that he has a security guard outside his door.

Now when I heard that I was puzzled, as my understanding was that bail conditions dictated that he live with his uncle Arnold Pistorius?   So I thought perhaps by saying he kept a security guard outside his door, he meant there was a security guard outside the main door of Uncle Arnold's home.   Still not sure if this is what he was meaning.   Then he spoke of his sister (Amy) who he said lived close, and of how he phoned her to come sit with him when he had panicked and popped into the cupboard.   I thought she must live a few blocks away, or a short drive away, as he had said she lived close, that was until I listened to Alex Crawford (and there is nothing she doesn't know about Barry Roux and the Pistorius family, soft spot for them?) and she explained that Amy, the sister, and Oscar Pistorius
both live at the home of their uncle Arnold Pistorius!

Seems Amy has lived there since a young child and Oscar Pistorius did too but returned as Crawford said, due to the bail conditions.

She said too that it was a very very large house in a very upmarket area of Pretoria!

Yeah, this guy Pistorius has had a hard life...

So, when Pistorius was phoning his sister, who he said lives close by, I hadn't appreciated just how close, certainly never thought he meant the same house!  So how close is she - couple rooms away, or does she live in west wing of their uncle Arnold's home?

And this security guard, who  Pistorius said he has posted outside his door (presumably the guy has a firearm which Pistorius doesn't want to be around any more?) Is he talking about outside his bedroom door?  The door to a suite of rooms he may have at his uncle's home?  Or, is he referring to outside the main door of the very very large house as Alex Crawford has described the property?

Barry Roux has an uphill climb if he wants to win this case by playing the sympathy card - poor little Oscar what a hellish life he has didn't wash today, and I doubt it will tomorrow...

As for the insensitive attempt by Pistorius to gain sympathy by opening his evidence with a very pathetic, public, tearful, hollow apology to the Steenkamp family, and hoping for forgiveness - beggars belief!

Reeva's mum who must be going through the most awful grief and agony never flinched at the performance by Pistorius, this grovelling, snivelling excuse for a man - she showed not a sign that she would ever forgive him for taking from her her beautiful daughter Reeva in what was a most callous and cruel act of violence.

Dignified throughout Court proceedings which must be harrowing for her, she sat steely, not giving Pistorius what he wanted, not a glimmer of  insight as to what she was truly thinking of him. 

The Judge's reaction, she raises an eyebrow when she hears that Pistorius wants to make an apology to the Steenkamp family.
7th April 2014

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