Oscar Pistorius must pay for the crime of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, which has devastated her family, her father told a South African court on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old Paralympian gold medalist faces a minimum 15-year jail term after his manslaughter conviction for the 2013 killing, for which he originally received a 5-year sentence, was upgraded on appeal.
Called to testify by the lead state prosecutor in Pistorius’ sentencing hearing, a tearful and trembling Barry Steenkamp, said forgiving the runner was very hard.
“It just devastated us; I ended up having a stroke… I just don’t wish that to anybody in this world. He has to pay for his crime,” the 73-year-old said.
Steenkamp said he and wife June had relied financially on their daughter, and he had hurt himself to try to relive the pain that his daughter went through:
“I jabbed myself with needles,” he said.
He asked the court to allow pictures of his daughter to be shown to the world as a deterrent to would-be killers.
Jonathan Scholtz, a psychologist called by Pistorius’ lawyer, told the court on Monday that the athlete was “a broken man” on medication for depression, anxiety and insomnia who should be hospitalised and not jailed.
But prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Pistorius had shown no remorse for shooting and killing Steenkamp when he fired four shots through a locked toilet door in his Pretoria home.
The case has prompted a fierce debate in a country beset by high levels of violent crime against women. Some rights groups have said the white athlete has received preferential treatment.
Earlier on Tuesday Ebba Gudny Gudmundsdottir, from Iceland, described the athlete as an inspiration to her 11-year old son, who has a similar disability to Pistorius.
The lower part of the athlete’s legs were amputated when he was a baby, and he is known as “Blade Runner” for the carbon-fibre prosthetics he wore when racing.
Gudmundsdottir told the court Pistorius often visited her family in Iceland and her family travelled to Manchester to see Pistorius race.
“It was an inspiration for him (her son) to see Oscar and the others run,” she said.
At his original trial, Pistorius had argued he mistook Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder.
His manslaughter conviction was upgraded to murder after an appeal heard by the Supreme Court, which ruled in March that Pistorius had exhausted all his legal options.
The original trial judge, Thokozile Masipa, is also presiding at the sentencing hearing, at Pretoria High Court.
Photo Credit: Gallo Images/Independent/Phill Magakoe