PRETORIA – The father of Reeva Steenkamp has testified in a South African court that her fatal shooting by Oscar Pistorius "devastated" his family and that today he thinks of her "all the time."
An emotional Barry Steenkamp spoke at the sentencing hearing for the former track star, who was convicted of murdering girlfriend Steenkamp in his home in 2013.
Steenkamp says his daughter's death contributed to his heart and other health problems, and that he frequently imagines that she must have been experiencing great fear and pain just before she died.
Sitting in the courtroom, Pistorius looked downward as Steenkamp testified.
Pistorius has always maintained that he mistook Steenkamp for a burglar when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet on St Valentine’s Day 2013..
"I personally think that there was an argument," Barry Steenkamp, 73, told the sentencing hearing after Pistorius's conviction was upgraded to murder.
The court must decide whether there are “substantial and compelling” reasons why the 29-year-old athlete should not be sentenced to a full 15 years’ imprisonment.
On the first day of the sentencing hearing, clinical psychologist Professor Jonathan Scholtz, called to give evidence for the defence, told Pretoria’s High court that Pistorius' mental condition was “too severe” for him to defend himself against a life sentence and he should be hospitalised rather than imprisoned because of his deteriorating health.
Judge Thokozile Masipa, who is presiding over Pistorius’s sentencing proceedings, originally found the athlete guilty of manslaughter, but the conviction was upgraded to murder by South Africa’s court of appeal in December last year.
The athlete served 12 months’ imprisonment before he was released on parole. He has since been living under house arrest at his uncle’s Pretoria mansion, wearing an electronic tag and carrying out community service.
The case continues.