Steenkamp cousin testifies ahead of Pistorius sentencing


PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius did not give the “true version” during trial testimony of how he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in South Africa in 2013, a cousin of Steenkamp said Wednesday at the sentencing hearing for the double-amputee Olympian.

The cousin, Kim Martin, also criticized Pistorius for not testifying at the sentencing hearing but agreeing to an ITV television interview that will be broadcast after the hearing ends this week.

“I think it’s very unfair to want to talk to the world about your version when you had the opportunity in court to do so,” Martin said under questioning from chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

Pistorius, who was in court Wednesday, is currently under house arrest after initially serving one year of a five-year prison sentence for manslaughter for shooting Steenkamp. That conviction was overturned last year by an appeals court, which convicted Pistorius of the more serious charge of murder.

Judge Thokozile Masipa, who initially acquitted Pistorius of murder, will decide the new sentence. The hearing is scheduled to run through Friday this week. South Africa has a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for murder, although a judge can reduce that in some circumstances.

In her testimony, Martin said she and her family are struggling to cope with Steenkamp’s death and that every Valentine’s Day — the day when Steenkamp was fatally shot — is the “worst day for us.”

Martin said her family lights a candle for Steenkamp, a model, at Christmas and that they try to celebrate such special days despite the grief.

“We don’t want every occasion to become a funeral,” she said.

Martin also questioned Pistorius’ statement that he killed Steenkamp by mistake when he fired shots through the door of a toilet cubicle in his home, thinking an intruder was in the house.

“I don’t feel the true version came out,” Martin said.

In a statement earlier this month, Pistorius’ uncle, Arnold Pistorius, said the family had declined many requests for interviews with the former track star out of respect for the legal process. He said he agreed to ITV’s request in an effort to dispel what he described as the many inaccuracies and speculations that had arisen.

“I decided it was necessary to take up one media offer that would provide our family with a voice to address some of the misconceptions that have remained unchallenged,” Arnold Pistorius said.