Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius thankful for prayers to his and Reeva Steenkamp's family

Gender researcher says ruling shows courts don't take violence against women seriously

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 February, 2013, 6:25am

South African Paralympic icon and murder suspect Oscar Pistorius yesterday said he was thankful for prayers offered to his family and that of his slain girlfriend, a day after he was freed on bail.

"Thank you to every person that has prayed for both families, Osca" read a tweet by his brother Carl, in the track star's first public reaction, outside of court, since his arrest for the Valentine's Day killing of Reeva Steenkamp.

The Olympic "Blade Runner" was spending his first day out on bail with his family pending trial for the killing of his lover.

Pistorius was freed on a record one million rand (HK$873,000) bail on Friday after eight days in custody and an emotionally charged four-day bail hearing.

"I would like Oscar to just compose himself and to have a normal day," his uncle Arnold Pistorius told the local Eyewitness News.

He will return to court later this year when a date will be set for trial for having shot dead his model girlfriend and law graduate Steenkamp.

Pistorius claims he repeatedly shot at and killed his lover by mistake thinking she was a burglar.

Steenkamp's grieving parents, however, did not appear convinced.

"It doesn't matter how rich he is and how good his legal team is. He needs to live with himself if he lets his legal team lie for him," her father Barry told the Afrikaans-language daily Beeld.

Pistorius has assembled some of the best legal brains in South Africa to defend his case.

"He'll have to live with his conscience. But if he's telling the truth, I may forgive him one day," Steenkamp's father said. But "if it didn't happen as he described it, he should suffer. And he will suffer … only he knows".

Pistorius' family has sent flowers and a card to the Steenkamp family, but "what does that mean? Nothing", said June, Steenkamp's mother.

In addition to the bail cash he posted on Friday afternoon, which experts say is among the highest set in South Africa, Pistorius had to surrender his passport and his firearms.

The magistrate quadrupled the bail amount that initially had been proposed by the state.

He must report to Pretoria's Brooklyn police on Mondays and Fridays. He was also ordered not to take alcohol or drugs.

Pistorius may also hold talks with his trainer to get back on the track, despite being banned under his bail terms from competing outside South Africa.

The state charged him with the premeditated killing of 29-year-old Steenkamp.

If found guilty, he faces a possible life sentence.

The prosecution, meanwhile, said it was confident it had evidence to convict. Winning a bail application "doesn't mean an acquittal", said spokesman Medupe Simasiku. "We still believe we have evidence to convict Oscar Pistorius."