A convicted murder has claimed his victim wouldn’t want him to spend his life behind bars.
The man, who shot dead his 30-year-old model girlfriend on Valentine’s Day 2013, told television cameras: “I don’t want to go back to jail and I don’t want to have to waste my life sitting there.”
To which the only reasonable reaction is: what?
That man, of course, is Oscar Pistorius. The South African Paralympian killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp three years ago, shooting four times through the bathroom door in the belief, he claimed, she was an intruder. In 2014, he was convicted of manslaughter and served 12 months of his five year sentence. Last year, following an appeal by state prosecutors, that conviction was upgraded to murder.
Pistorius is currently under house arrest, awaiting a new sentence that could see him sent away for 15 years.
Now, the 29-year-old has given a one-off interview to be broadcast on ITV at 9pm tomorrow night. And for anyone already sickened by his self-pitying displays of crying and vomiting in the courtroom, it makes for despicable viewing.
“We will never know whether she’d have wanted redemption for Pistorius – and neither can he”
In clips released by ITV ahead of the documentary, Pistorius says: “If I was afforded the opportunity of redemption I would like to help the less fortunate. “I would like to believe that if Reeva could look down on me then she would want me to live that life.” His eyes flit between the interviewer and his lap. His manner is strangely impassive.
Naturally, social media has imploded. The reaction largely echoed my own first thought: ‘She’d probably rather still be alive’.
But it’s too easy to make knee-jerk comments. To spit back sarcasm. What Pistorius’s words really show us? How deluded he remains. How, as a man who’s spent his adult life in a position of power, he’s still driven by the belief that he deserves a voice. That his ‘help’ would be something desirable; something valuable. That people like him – however they behave – have something to offer society and shouldn’t be locked up. That he’s a narcissist.
Worse, he feels able to put words into the mouth of Reeva Steenkamp, the woman he murdered. We will never know whether she’d have wanted redemption for Pistorius – and neither can he. That he wants to ‘believe it’ – perhaps as a coping mechanism, or to justify his own self-serving desperation for freedom – is both sad and sickening.
Reeva, as I wrote at the time, has had almost no voice in the three years since her death. At trial, any sense of her as a person – a daughter, sister, friend – was couched in legal speak or skimmed over. Her family tried to keep her memory alive, bringing pictures of her to court every day, even printed on the water bottles they sipped from during those long weeks. But the message then – as it is now – was clear: this is the Oscar Pistorius show.
Indeed, the only occasion when Reeva’s voice was heard came via the Whatsapp messages she’d sent to her boyfriend two weeks before her death: “I’m scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me and of how you will react to me.”
What she meant, we can never know. But her words have haunted me since I read them – as no doubt they have those who knew and loved her. They hang in the air as the only ‘testimony’ from a young woman whose life was snatched away by the man she considered her boyfriend.
It’s chilling stuff. And it makes Pistorius’s attempt to second-guess what she might have wanted in death all the more incredible. Here’s a man so used to looking inwards – to having people worship at the altar of his fame – that he’s lost sight of any remaining shred of humanity.
“The only explanation for speaking so graphically is an utter lack of self-awareness”
During the recent sentencing hearing in Pretoria High Court, we at least got a sense of how Reeva’s murder has impacted the lives of her family. Her father, Barry now aged 73, gave an emotional testimony about the “devastation” her death had caused.
“I talk to her. She is with me all the time. I wouldn’t say I’ve become a recluse but I can’t really mix with people anymore. It’s devastated us. I had a stroke. I wouldn’t wish it on another human being,” he said.
It was hard to watch this dignified man tremble on the stand. And I can think of no greater contrast with the self-pitying vignettes delivered by his daughter’s killer.
“I understand the pain people feel, that loved her and miss her. I feel that same pain,” the athlete says in tomorrow night’s documentary, comparing his own grief to that of Reeva’s loved ones.
“And I look back and I think, I always think – how did this possibly happen? I think, how could this have happened? How could this have happened?”
The self-pity continues: “I can’t even hold a cricket bat up if I don’t have my arms to balance and the mark on the door is too high to hit if I have my legs off,” he says, addressing the prosecution’s claim that he attacked Reeva with a bat before shooting her.
“I can’t run away, and I can’t defend myself.”
Not satisfied with wallowing, Pistorius also goes into detail about the murder itself. Weeping, his mouth flecked with thick spittle, his forehead creased, he recalls: “I can smell the blood – I can feel the warmness of it on my hands.”
As pleas for redemption go, it’s absurd. The only explanation for speaking so graphically is an utter lack of self-awareness.
At the sentencing hearing, Reeva’s parents were told that Pistorius “wants nothing more” than to talk to them – something they said might be possible in the future. How can he expect that they’d want to speak with him at all after this?
Pistorius needs to wake up or own up. I can only hope his sentencing for murder on July 6, is the moment that finally brings it home to him: the only life wasted is that of Reeva Steenkamp.[Source: The Telegraph]