William Shakespeare never wrote a sequel to his story that has become one of the most rewritten and referred to love stories of all time. That would be the story of a boy named Montague and a girl named Capulet. It was a tragedy in every sense of the word, as is every love story that ends in bloodshed. But the world never had the chance to find out what happened to the Montagues and the Capulets after the tragic loss of two lovers. What would Shakespeare have said about their healing? How did the Montagues and Capulets move forward in a situation that seemed….anything but just? This week the world has seen at least one family begin to pick up the pieces of healing long after the bleeding has stopped in one of the most tragic love endings of all according to the BBC Dec. 3.
A disabled gold medal winning Olympian, paired with a blonde beauty, with young lives and the world of high profile romance stretched out before them. Until Valentine’s Day 2013, when the final chapters of this love story ended. But now, according to BBC News Dec. 3, the Steenkamp family, this story’s version of the Capulets, can move on. But even so, they move on believing their daughter died as a result of domestic violence.
On February 13, 2013, it was a beautiful day in Pretoria, South Africa. At least, that is what was tweeted by the blonde beauty early in the morning. She was almost bragging about how happy she was, as many young lovers are inclined to do. She tweeted,
“It’s a beautiful day! Make things happen. Starting my day off with a yummy healthy shake from my boo : )”
But there is always a deeper story behind every Twitter timeline. Within a few hours of that tweet, Reeva would summon up the courage to sign a Valentine’s Day card for her boo, using the phrase “I love you” for the very first time. Within 24 hours of that tweet, and that card, Reeva Steenkamp would be a blond beauty lying crumpled on the bottom of the bathroom floor. An eerie tweet one week before her murder reflects an intuitive woman.
It began with the words “If you never see me again” and ended with the hashtag “#death”. It wasn’t the only eerie premonition of Reeva Steenkamp. In a speech at the University of Johannesburg on March 10, June Steenkamp, Reeva’s mother, spoke of artwork that Reeva had painted when she was 14 or 15, reports the eNCA.
“The artwork was something that Reeva painted when she was 14 or 15 years old. It was actually a premonition of her death. She had the steps going up to heaven and she had wings on.”
The third painting of Reeva’s, created when she was a teenager, shows a figure lying dead in a bathroom. Text messages between Reeva and Oscar weeks before the murder reveal a woman who was scared of her boyfriend. Days after an eerie tweet and frightened messages, Reeva’s Twitter timeline would be consumed with the phrase “R.I.P.” Text messages from Reeva to Oscar that came out at trial read,
“I’m scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me and how you react to me. I can’t be attacked by outsiders for dating you and then be attacked by you…the one person I need protection from.”
In the wee hours of February 14, 2013, rang four gunshots in a small gated community in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar’s story was that he was sleeping at the time that Reeva went into the bathroom on that fateful night. He claimed that he woke up when he thought burglars were in the house. This, despite the fact that during his trial, testimony revealed that someone had accessed the Internet on his phone, while he was allegedly sleeping.
This lie would lead to many others by Oscar Pistorius, which led us to frequently compare him to another high profile convicted killer Jodi Arias. And it was those moments and those lies that has resulted in what is now a very commonly known legal precedent in the trial watching community, dolus eventualis. It was dolus eventualis that would ultimately lead to the murder conviction of Oscar Pistorius.
During the entire Oscar Pistorius trial, his entire defense rested on the argument that he claimed he didn’t mean to kill Reeva. The State argued to Judge Masipa, it doesn’t matter, he shot to kill, and that is a crime with a minimum sentence of 15 years. The wailing and the man tears and fake vomiting in his efforts to show remorse, also didn’t matter.
At the appeal Gerrie Nel prosecutor for the State argued “the law is clear, it doesn’t have to be a specific person whose death can be foreseen, it can be anyone.” Nel also asked the higher court to review the circumstantial evidence against Oscar Pistorius again. He said that Judge Masipa seemed to pick and choose what evidence she wanted to believe.
At that point the higher courts agreed, “100% agreed.” And it was at that point that it appeared Oscar Pistorius was in a lot more trouble than he may have thought.
What were the circumstances that led up to Reeva running into the bathroom? The State argued that Judge Masipa did not consider those, and that was an error of law. Justice Baartman, a female, said during the hearing that just because the court does not mention this evidence in their ruling does not mean that she has ignored the evidence.
Justice Leach agreed, that the absence of its mentioning [circumstantial evidence] in the ruling was a direct inference to the fact that it was not taken into account. The culpable homicide conviction was overturned, a conviction that is similar to manslaughter in North America. The CBC News reported Dec. 3 that in their ruling, Justice Leach said,
“The accused ought to have been found guilty of murder on the basis that he had fired the fatal shots with criminal intent.”
Oscar Pistorius did not appear at this ruling. But Reeva’s mother did. She was described as “impassive” when listening to the ruling. Justice Leach also noted the Shakespearean element of this tragic Valentine’s Day murder,
“This case involves a human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. A young man overcomes huge physical disabilities to reach Olympic heights as an athlete. In doing so, he becomes an international celebrity. He meets a young woman of great natural beauty and a successful model. Romance blossoms and then ironically, on Valentine’s Day, all is destroyed when he takes her life.”
Oscar Pistorius has been out on house arrest since his 10 month prison term for culpable homicide came to an end. He was to spend the remainder of his sentence at his Uncle’s luxurious South African home. Now, he will spend it in jail.
The minimum sentence for Oscar Pistorius will be 15 years. It is likely that his lawyer will argue exceptional circumstances due to his disability, reports the CBC. Photos of where Oscar Pistorius has already served time can be seen in the slideshow.
It’s not been a great week for Oscar Pistorius. Did he have his own premonitions on that? Is that why he did not appear at his own ruling? The CBC reports that when the ruling was heard around the world, Oscar’s Uncle was seen “rushing into the house” and then later driving off in a vehicle.
It has however, been a great week for the Steenkamps. Since Valentine’s Day 2013, all they have wanted is the truth. In a statement released by the Steenkamps since the ruling they said,
“The legal team will study the finding and we will be guided by them in terms of options going forward.”
Reeva’s father, Barry Steenkamp told ANN7 that he was pleased with the decision. He even hinted that, from above, Reeva was pleased as well. Trying to maintain his emotions, he said,
“Let us now all get on with our lives. I’m sure she’ll be able to rest as well now.”
Oscar Pistorius will work on his healing from prison. It is expected that he will not be sentenced until early 2016. The Steenkamps are on a mission to continue spreading awareness of domestic violence, as their renewed purpose in life.
June Steenkamp has written a book with a ghost author titled “Reeva: A Mother’s Story.” She is also setting up a Reeva Rebecca Steenkamp Foundation for women and children victims of domestic violence reports the ENCA. And so the Shakespearean sized tragedy of the love story of Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp comes to an end.
Watch June Steenkamp here, reading the speech on domestic violence that Reeva was to give the day after she was murdered. Do you think Reeva was a victim of domestic violence? Or do you think Oscar got a bad deal?