Africa

Oscar Pistorius verdict: Steenkamp family protest

Oscar Pistorius leaves court. 12 Sept 2014 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Oscar Pistorius faces up to 15 years in jail for culpable homicide

The parents of Reeva Steenkamp say "justice was not served" after South African athlete Oscar Pistorius was acquitted of murdering their daughter.

June and Barry Steenkamp told NBC News of their "disbelief" that the court had believed Pistorius's version of events.

Judge Thokozile Masipa found him guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, saying the state had failed to prove he intended to kill.

Pistorius has been allowed bail ahead of sentencing on 13 October.

Judge Masipa said the athlete had acted "negligently" when he shot his girlfriend through a toilet door, but in the "belief that there was an intruder".

The Paralympic sprinter had strenuously denied murdering Ms Steenkamp after a row on Valentine's Day last year, saying he shot her by mistake.

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Media captionOscar Pistorius was asked to stand as the verdicts were read out by the judge

But in the interview with NBC, June Steenkamp said: "This verdict is not justice for Reeva.

"I just want the truth. He shot through the door and I can't believe that they believe it was an accident."


At the scene: Pumza Fihlani, BBC News

There is a perception here that most crime is committed by poor black people targeting the white middle classes or the wealthy elite.

Cue "white fear" - a phrase used to refer to the rich white "haves" in society who live behind high walls, afraid of the intruder who may come in the night. It was the threat of this intruder that apparently gripped Pistorius with fear on that tragic morning.

In a country where domestic violence is a serious problem, it is not surprising that many hoped this case would be an impetus for change in the laws protecting women.

It was never proven that this was a case of domestic abuse but this did not stop political parties and women's organisations from using Ms Steenkamp as the face of the vulnerable woman - failed by her country and the system.

Outside court, one protester told me: "Women always lose."

Did Reeva Steenkamp get justice?


Earlier, Arnold Pistorius, the athlete's uncle, said the family was "deeply grateful" to the judge for finding him not guilty of murder and that a "big burden" had been lifted.

"There are no victors in this," he added. "We as a family remain deeply affected by the devastating, tragic event... It won't bring Reeva back but our hearts still go out for her family and friends."

South Africa's prosecuting authority said it was "disappointed" that Pistorius was not convicted of murder but said it would wait until after sentencing to decide whether to appeal.

Pistorius faces up to 15 years in jail, although the judge could suspend the sentence or only impose a fine.

The athlete was also found guilty on a charge of negligently handling a firearm that went off in a restaurant.

He was acquitted of another charge of firing a gun in public, through the sunroof of a car, and of a charge of illegal possession of ammunition in the home where he killed Ms Steenkamp.

Despite the conviction, the International Paralympic Committee said Pistorius would be allowed to compete in future events.

Director of media and communications Craig Spence told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Oscar's done a great deal for the Paralympic movement. He's been an inspiration to millions, but obviously his priority now is to see what the judge decides.

"If he wishes to resume his athletics career then we wouldn't step in his way. We would allow him to compete again in the future."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption June Steenkamp says her daughter has not received justice
Verdict What it means Sentence
Premeditated murder - acquitted Intended and planned to unlawfully kill Reeva Steenkamp, or an intruder Mandatory life term - 25 years before parole
Common-law murder - acquitted Unlawfully intended to kill in the heat of the moment but without "malice aforethought". Either: Shot door intending to kill, or knew someone might be killed and still fired gun Minimum of 15 years up to 20 years, at judge's discretion
Culpable homicide (manslaughter) - guilty No intention to kill. Takes into account disability, but actions negligent and not in keeping with a reasonable person Maximum of 15 years, possibly between seven and 10 years
Discharging a firearm in public - guilty of restaurant charge, acquitted over sunroof incident Two counts for allegedly firing a gun through a car sunroof and discharging a gun at a restaurant A fine or up to five years - for each charge
Illegal possession of ammunition - acquitted In possession of .38 bullets for which he has no licence A fine or up to 15 years

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