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Trial of Oscar Pistorius for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp

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  • Barry Roux (1955 - d.)
    BARRY ROUX Barry Roux is a Senior Advocate of the Johannesburg Bar. He was admitted to the Bar in 1982 and his practice comprises criminal, insurance, delictual, aviation, matrimonial, medical neglig...
  • Thokozile Matilda Masipa
    Thokozile Masipa The Honourable Thokozile Masipa Judge in the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa Incumbent Assumed office1 December 1998 Nominated by Judicial Service Commission ...
  • Gerrie Nel
    Gerhard C "Gerrie" Nel Gerrie Nel is a South African advocate and prosecutor for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa.He is nicknamed "Bulldog" for his tenacity in the courtroom, ...
  • Friedrich Heinrich Pistorius, SV/PROG (1789 - c.1863)
    Friedrich Heinrich Pistorius emigrated from Germany to SA in 1838 with his wife, Augusta Bernardina von Landsberg, his uncle, Maximilian Ernst Ludwig Pistorius, & his 5 sons & 3 daughters - on board th...

Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius aka "Blade Runner" (b 1986) - the SA double amputee Olympic sprinter - shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, dead on Valentines Day 2013.

The State vs Oscar Pistorius

Key Profiles:

The trial of Oscar Pistorius for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp and several gun-related charges in the High Court of South Africa in Pretoria began on 3 March 2014. Pistorius is a leading South African runner, who won attention as an athlete with a disability competing in multiple Paralympic Games and the 2012 Summer Olympics. Steenkamp, a model, was his girlfriend. In the early morning of Thursday, 14 February 2013, Steenkamp was shot and killed by Pistorius at his Pretoria home. Pistorius acknowledged that he shot Steenkamp to death and said that he mistook her for an intruder. He was formally charged with murder in a Pretoria court on 15 February 2013.

The trial was assigned to Judge Thokozile Masipa who appointed two assessors, Janette Henzen du Toit and Themba Mazibuko, to help her evaluate the case and reach a verdict.There is no jury, as the jury system in South Africa was abolished during apartheid.

The opening statement of prosecutor Gerrie Nel noted that the murder case against Pistorius is based largely on circumstantial evidence, as there were no eyewitnesses to the incident.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him, including murder and three gun-related charges. In his opening statement, read on his behalf, Pistorius said he believed Steenkamp was in bed when he shot at what he thought was an intruder behind the toilet door, and that he had spoken to her in bed shortly beforehand. He admitted to killing Steenkamp, but denied the charge of murder.

The lead defence advocate in the case is Barry Roux. In South African criminal law, murder is defined as the intentional unlawful killing of another human being. The defence of Pistorius is that, in shooting at what he believed to be an intruder, he mistakenly believed he was acting in self-defence. Self-defence excludes the unlawfulness requirement of criminal liability – so that an act in valid self-defence is lawful. If he can raise a reasonable doubt in his favour that he was actually mistaken, as he claims, he is entitled, under South African law, to a complete acquittal on the charge of murder. The court will then consider whether this mistake was one that a reasonable person, in his circumstances may have made. If the court concludes that this was an unreasonable mistake, it will convict him of culpable homicide. Culpable homicide in South African criminal law is defined as the negligent unlawful killing of another human being – roughly the equivalent of the English and US manslaughter.

Closing arguments were heard on 7 and 8 August, with prosecutor Nel stating that Pistorius concocted a "snowball of lies", & demanding that Pistorius face consequences for his actions. In response, defence lawyer Barry Roux stated that the timeline proves that Pistorius' story is true, compared Pistorius' reaction to danger as being like an abused woman, and that Pistorius should only ever have faced culpable homicide charges, not murder.

On 11 & 12 September Judge Masipa delivered her verdict that the state had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Pistorius was guilty of premeditated murder, and dolus eventualis (common-law murder with indirect intent) was also ruled out, accepting that "he did not subjectively foresee this as a possibility, that he would kill the person behind the door, let alone the deceased as he thought she was in the bedroom". However, Judge Masipa said a reasonable person in the same circumstances would have and his actions were clearly negligent and culpable homicide was thus a competent verdict, i.e. a lesser offence that is a possible alternative verdict. She found Pistorius guilty of the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp and guilty of reckless endangerment with a firearm at a restaurant. He was found not guilty of the charges relating to discharging a firearm through the sunroof of a car and illegal possession of ammunition.

On 21 October 2014, Judge Masipa sentenced Pistorius to a maximum of five years for culpable homicide and a concurrent three year suspended prison sentence for the separate reckless endangerment conviction.

Genealogical Anecdotes

Oscar is his defence attorney - Barry Roux's - 6th cousin once removed:

Barry Roux → Margaret Idavy Roux (Holder) his mother → Susarah Margaretha Susanna Hotlzhausen (Coetzee) her mother → Johannes Cornelis Coetzee her father → Jacomina Hendrina Christina Steyn, b1c3d4e2f7g7 his mother → Martha Fransina Adriana Viljoen, b3c4d2e12f6 her mother → Jacomina Hendrina Greyling, b9c2 her mother → Jacoba Wilhelmina Greyling, b9c6 her sister → Maria Petronella Botha her daughter → Jacoba Wilhelmina Erasmus her daughter → Emmerentia de Beer her daughter → Arnoldus Stephanus de Beer her son → Gertruda Jacoba Pistorius (de Beer) his daughter → Heinrich Carl Wilhelm (Henke) Pistorius her son → Oscar Pistorius his son

Oscar is the 7th Generation descendant of a German Immigrant Friedrich Pistorius:

Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius → Heinrich Carl Wilhelm (Henke) Pistorius his father → Hendrik Wilhelm Carl Pistorius his father → Theodor Georg Josef Pistorius his father → Carl Wilhelm Heinrich Pistorius his father → Georg Friedrich Theodor Pistorius his father → Friedrich Heinrich Pistorius, SV/PROG his father

Friedrich Pistorius - Oscar's 4th Great Grandfather - emigrated from Germany to SA in 1838 with his wife, Augusta Bernardina von Landsberg, his uncle, Maximilian Ernst Ludwig Pistorius, & his 5 sons & 3 daughters- on board the Cape Packet. One of his younger sons would be Oscar's 3rd Great Grandfather Georg Pistorius; and one of his older sons, Carl Pistorius (below).


Oscar's 4th Gr Uncle, Carl Pistorius aka 'Kwaai Angus', had 'Women Deceiveth Ever' carved on his wooden front door:

Oscar’s 4th Great Uncle, Carel Pistorius (b1817)'s, ‘‘fierce misogyny and obdurate nature resulted in his being dubbed "Kwaai Angus" by his neighbours.This formidable character had a particular mistrust of women and cheques. His mistrust of women evinced by the fact that into his heavy wooden front door were carved the words 'Women Deceiveth Ever'." http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2014/04/16/pistorius-family-had-issues-involving-wooden-doors---in-1844

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