From Olympic Champion to Murderer



Pistorius in court

People tend to think of Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee blade runner that gained the sympathy and turned the heads of many in the 2012 London Olympics, as brave, inspiring, or maybe even heroic. But as of Valentine’s Day 2013, Pistorius can be characterized under another word, a murderer.

On February 14, 2013, Reeva Steenkamp, Pistorius’ girlfriend, was found shot to death in the couples’ Pretoria home. According to the blade runner, he mistook the beautiful model for an intruder, and shot at the “intruder” not intending to kill. The four shots were fired through the locked bathroom door, fatally hitting Reeva in the head, amongst other places. Pistorius kept firearms throughout his house; he kept a 9 mm-pistol near his bed. Just weeks before the homicide, Pistorius had been charged with firing a gun in public. Pistorius was known for being slightly emotionally unstable as well, often suffering from jealousy.

Many theories have come into play over the legitimacy of Pistorius’ account of the night: He and Reeva had gone to bed around 10 pm. Around 3 am, he went to fetch a fan off the balcony, when he heard a stirring in the house. South Africa was having issues with crimes, especially in the capital, Pretoria, where the home is located, so he assumed that it was an intruder. He followed the noise to the bathroom and the fatal shots were made, killing Reeva. Other factors have been brought up, causing questioning about the true reason those shots were made. One neighbor recalls hearing a loud argument between the couple. Another point brought up is why the blade runner would suspect an intruder, especially if his residence was guarded by an 8-foot high electrified wall and devoted security.

Although the murder occurred in February of 2013, the trial was recently held. Unlike most countries, the trial did not have a jury, but a judge. South Africa suffered from apartheid, racial separation, during the 20th century, so in order to avoid racial prejudice, a judge was appointed to rule the case. Even though it seemed like an open-and-shut case, it has caught more attention due to the recent decision of not guilty of premeditated murder. Some may speculate because he is tried in his hometown, has physical ailments, is a hero and an elite citizen that this may have swayed the verdict.

Pistorius has been convicted of culpable homicide, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years and a minimum of no time behind bars. His sentence has already been reduced from a premeditated murder, which carries a life sentence behind bars, to a culpable homicide. Is this justice? Power of influence? Pity due to disability? This story is concluded, but some would say otherwise.