News

Pistorius goes from hero to hunted as he’s freed on bail

Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius Independent News & Media

OSCAR Pistorius got his first glimpse of his new life tonight as he left Pretoria magistrate's court hiding under a jacket in the back of his uncle's car.

As the vehicle weaved at speed through rush-hour traffic it was pursued by photographers mounted on motorcyles and a convertible with a cameraman leaning out of the back. The Paralympian's involvement in the violent death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, has transformed him from hero to hunted in the space of a little more than one week.

The nature of that involvement in the killing is still at issue after magistrate Desmond Nair freed the world famous athlete on bail, while he awaits trial on the charge of premeditated murder. Pistorius, who is a double amputee, will return to the same court in early June for what is expected to be a lengthy trial, based on what was a marathon of a bail hearing stretching over four days.

The magistrate had one last surprise today as he quadrupled the amount the state had requested for bail from £18,500 to £74,000. Pistorius, a noted gun enthusiast, must turn in any firearms that he owns and surrender his two passports. He cannot leave the district of South Africa's capital without the permission of his new probation officer.

Pistorius, who has emerged as a reckless dare-devil during the bail hearings, has also been barred from consuming any drugs or alcohol and must be available to verify his compliance through a new testing regimen. Ultimately, the dogged prosecutor Gerrie Nel's efforts to have the 26-year-old kept in custody were ruined by the bungling of investigating officer Hilton Botha.

The detective, who was dramatically removed from what may be South Africa's trial of the century when it emerged he was facing seven counts of attempted murder, made a string of errors which were exposed by the defence under cross-examination. In his summing up, the magistrate referred to Mr Botha's "several errors" and his "astounding" inability to judge how far away witnesses were who claimed to have heard arguments, shots and screaming on the night Ms Steenkamp was killed.

Mr Nair offered some hope to the prosecution for the trial ahead when he said that: "Warrant officer Botha is not the state case, the state case is comprised of experts who will put together circumstantial evidence."

The evidence is necessarily circumstantial, he pointed out, as only one of the two people in Mr Pistorius's multimillion dollar home survived the early hours of 14 February and that person had opted not to answer the court's questions, instead submitting an affidavit. A prosecutor's aide sought to play down the setback saying "it was always going to go this way".

Sitting only a few feet away from the accused as he was granted bail were two representatives of the dead woman's family who came to "make sure Reeva was represented".

"This is a bail application not a trial," said Kim Myers, a close friend of the deceased 29 year-old model. "We hope and trust that justice will prevail." As supporters of the multiple gold medallist celebrated inside and outside the court, she added: "It's important to remember someone has lost their life."

Minutes later outside Court C Arnold Pistorius, the accused's gaunt and white-haired uncle, said: "We are happy and relieved that Oscar has been granted bail today but at the same time we are in mourning for the death of Reeva Steenkamp."

"As the family," he continued, "we know Oscar's version of what happened that tragic night and we know that that is the truth and that will prevail in the coming court case."

There was evidence of a sort that the influence of their PR man and former Sun editor Stuart Higgins was being felt. After a wary start in which the Pistorius family refused to speak to the media they have struck some balance between defending their most famous son while making the appropriate noises in the direction of a woman whom he was, according to his friends' testimony, considering marrying.

Bail became inevitable after the magistrate was not convinced that one of the world's most recognisable sportsmen, whose prosthetic legs require weekly maintenance, was a realistic flight threat. He accepted the state had proven the runner's "tendency to aggression" but not a "propensity to violence". Mr Nel's assertion that Julian Assange's famous face had not stopped him hiding out in a London embassy failed to sway the magistrate.

Outside the court building beyond the thicket of television cameras there were clear signs of the wedge that this case has driven between ordinary South Africans. A cluster of people had gathered under a banner photo of  Mr Pistorius that read: "We trust in you and your love for Reeva."

The trial has highlighted the problem of violence towards women in South Africa, where, according to police statistics, seven women were murdered every day in 2011. Milling around amid the microphones was a 28 year-old woman who works in construction: "I came here to support Oscar even though he screwed up big time," she said. "Here in South Africa women are getting raped and killed everyday so I'm like what's the big deal? Where I come from I'm used to it."

Sharon Dego a 20 year-old student walking past could not contain her disgust: "I'm angry, if you open my heart right now you will find anger about what happened to Reeva," she said. "If he loved her how could he kill her? He's a monster."
 

Topics:  editors picks murder oscar pistorius reeva steenkamp



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

Driver allegedly headbutts Ipswich police officer

Operation North Rhombic, Ipswich Police and Department of Transport and Mains Road carrying out random breath tests on Limestone Street. Photo Inga Williams / The Queensland Times

THE officer was treated for a laceration above his eye in hospital.

Check out these handy recovery tips

Ipswich Knights footballer Adam O'Sullivan receives immediate treatment after suffering a serious knee injury.

Wise advice when dealing with serious injury

Sara shares her toughest injury challenge

Ipswich hockey player and Healthworks personal trainer Sara Rogers is recovering from knee surgery.

Aussie captain dealing with a knee reconstruction

Local Partners

What's on the small screen this week

Ernie Dingo stars in the TV series Going Places with Ernie Dingo.

ERNIE Dingo stars in a new travel series and Seven airs the AACTAs.

Mandy Moore feels like she's 60

Mandy Moore sees herself as a 60-year-old rather than a 32-year-old

Goooodbye Hamish and Andy (from our radios)

Hamish and Andy

The pair have been on air since 2006

David Attenborough on facing his mortality

Sir David Attenborough in a scene from the TV special The Death of the Oceans.

Life without Sir David Attenborough is hard to imagine

Saying "I do" changed Shia's outlook on marriage

Shia LaBeouf has a new outlook on marriage since he tied the knot.

Singer tunes in to first movie role

Tori Kelly voices the character Meena in the movie Sing.

Musician Tori Kelly voices Meena the teenage elephant in Sing

Chinese locked out of Australian property market

The rules are different if you're a foreigner

The buyer was from China - the trouble started right there

Morrison signs off on new affordable rental model

Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference after a meeting of the Council of Federal Financial Relations at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016.

Scott Morrison signed off on development of a new financing model

New 1200-seat Mormon church to open in Ipswich

COMMUNITY: Barbara MacDonald of Springfield Lakes with her children from left, Jacob, 6, Charlotte, 2, Joseph, 4, Emily, 9, and Lachlan, 8, outside the newly built Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at Augustine Heights.

One of Australia's largest Mormon churches will open this month

REVEALED: 25 of Ipswich's cheapest houses

8 Trumper St, East Ipswich, Offers above $230,000.

Old and neglected homes in hot demand with renovators

Coast high-flyer's fight back from bankruptcy, $72m debt

Scott Juniper went from millionaire developer to declaring bankruptcy in2012, now he is back on top of his game again with new developments including this one in Coolum.

'Apocalyptic lending storm' causes financial collapse.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!