Oscar Pistorius granted bail in Reeva Steenkamp case


The BBC's Andrew Harding describes the moment Oscar Pistorius got bail

South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, who faces murder charges over the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, has been granted bail after a four-day hearing.

Magistrate Desmond Nair said the state had not made a case that he would flee, or that he had a violent character.

The Paralympic champion denies murder, saying he shot Reeva Steenkamp thinking she was an intruder at his home.

The next hearing in the case has been set for 4 June. Bail was set at 1m rand (£74,000; $113,000).

He was ordered to hand over his passport, avoid his home in Pretoria and report to a police station between 07:00 and 13:00 every Monday and Friday.

Reeva Steenkamp in an undated photo Reeva Steenkamp's family say they want the truth

Mr Nair took almost two hours to deliver his judgement.

He criticised the testimony of Detective Hilton Botha for not following up important leads and changing his evidence.

But the magistrate also said he had difficulty understanding why Mr Pistorius had opened fire in the way he did.

However, he said Mr Pistorius had "reached out to meet the state's case" and had given a full version of events at an early stage.

"I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail," he said.

Mr Pistorius's family and supporters in the court gasped and cheered as the magistrate announced his decision.

Even by his own account of events, Oscar Pistorius displayed the most extreme recklessness in firing blindly into a closed door, without even the most basic appreciation of who or what might lie behind it.

Perhaps he's being punished enough by losing the woman he told friends he thought might become his wife.

Having sat just over a metre away from him for the last four days in court, I can tell you he is a broken man. But still it is hard to imagine he will walk away from a trial without some form of sanction, and with his life and career changed forever by four shots fired into a toilet door.

His uncle, Arnold Pistorius, said outside court: "We are relieved by the fact that Oscar got bail today, but at the same time, we are in mourning for Reeva Steenkamp and her family."

Conflicting accounts

The hearing began on Tuesday and both prosecution and defence laid out their cases.

Both sides agree that Mr Pistorius shot through the bathroom door four times, hitting and killing Ms Steenkamp.

But prosecutors allege the shooting happened after the couple had an argument at Mr Pistorius's home in the early hours of 14 February.

Det Botha told the court that witnesses had heard shouting, screaming and gunfire from about 600m (2,000ft) away.

But later he changed his evidence to suggest the witnesses were much closer.

Bail conditions

  • Must hand over 1 million rand: 100,000 rand in cash up front, and proof that the rest is available
  • Must turn in passports and any guns that he owns
  • Cannot leave Pretoria without permission from probation officer, nor can he return to his home
  • Forbidden to take drugs or drink alcohol
  • Must report to police station between 07:00 and 13:00 every Monday and Friday

And on Thursday it emerged that Det Botha faces allegations of attempted murder, and he was removed from the case.

Mr Pistorius says he woke in the middle of the night, and thought there was an intruder in the bathroom.

The prosecutors sought to portray Mr Pistorius as man with a history of violence who was likely to flee the country.

But the defence argued it would be impossible for Mr Pistorius to flee because his prosthetic legs would be noticed wherever he went.

Ms Steenkamp, 29, was a model and law graduate with a burgeoning television career.

Oscar Pistorius, 26, won gold medals at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.

In London he made history by becoming the first double-amputee to run in the Olympics, making the semi-final of the 400m.


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  • Comment number 736.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 735.

    Being a celebrity plus no witnesses plus incompetent police plus expensive defence lawyers means you can kill someone in South Africa and get out on bail. It should not be possible to kill someone and yet make a case to be released on bail. If you shoot at someone without knowing who you are shooting, that is a criminal....end of story.

  • rate this

    Comment number 734.

    Clearly it's a really strange scenario. Personally I feel that without an understanding of the culture and environment of the country I don't have the background to form any strong views. One thing I am fairly sure of though (based on UK jury service experience) is that there are no doubt a lot of facts that need and will be examined in minute detail, before a sensible view can be taken.

  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    There will be "exceptional circumstances" or some other rubbish which will allow him to escape a prison sentence. He wont get away with the murder entirely though, as his career is almost certainly over, and as for sponsors he'll struggle to get even a local kebab shop to take him on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 732.

    It's been over a decade since I left SA - which was due to the ever increasing crime rate. But, one thing that was common was that gangs would use small children to break in, often through bathroom or bedroom windows, which they could easily fit through. They would then open the front door for the rest of the gang. Not such a laughing matter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    I lived in Cape Town in the 1960's. (I can hear the wails of indignation as I type), but the fact is South Africa was far more peaceful and safer place then than it is now. (for both blacks and whites)
    A beautiful country allowed to go down the pan.

  • rate this

    Comment number 730.

    This was all about granting bail or not, and not passing judgement on the case. But Mr Pistorius's story is very lame. You're sleeping with your girl friend. You hear a (normal) noise in the bathroom. You don't check to see if its your girlfriend using the bath. You don't call her. You just rush to the bathroom and open fire? Not once, but four times? Unbelievable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 729.

    Justice for Reeva demands less moderation. Does the BBC have a vested interest in the Blade Runner beating the rap? We, the people are the jury, let us have our say. He's guilty, till proven innocent. Condolences to the Steenkamp family. R.I.P. Reeva.

  • rate this

    Comment number 728.

    It is so sad that the majority of comments were unprintable and in all probability, wholly inappropriate . A young woman's life has been taken. A young man's future has in all likelihood been ruined, whatever the verdict. It would be good to read more compassionate correspondence from you all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 727.

    Did someone say O.J. Simpson?

  • rate this

    Comment number 726.

    O J Simpson all over again. :-(

  • rate this

    Comment number 725.

    Fairly sick general media coverage, disappointing from the british media.

  • rate this

    Comment number 724.

    Call me cynical but would a burglar intent on making as least noise as possible stop to use the toilet in the same room as the houseowner sleeping. I realise criminals get caught by their stupidity but surely they cant be that stupid, but then again how paranoid must you be to sleep with loaded guns so close to hand in a so called secure building.

  • rate this

    Comment number 723.

    Large numbers of people seem to be questioning why someone on a charge of murder can be granted bail. The crime itself is (largely) irrelevant.

    Instead it rests on the prosecution showing one of three factors (which in this case they failed to):

    1) The person is a flight risk
    2) They may re offend
    3) They may intimidate witnesses

    The prosecution failed to show any, so he got bail. Simple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 722.

    Trying to imagine what I would have done if I was Pistorius thinking I was being burgled. With the weapons at hand, first reaction would be to check on my partner before shooting blindly
    Pistorious is going to play the I am stupid card and hopes the jury buy it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 721.

    No surprise!Too many selfish, powerful people have a financial interest in this man for the certainty of justice.He's standing safe as houses outside of a toilet cubicle carrying at least one loaded gun and a cricket bat. He's the fastest man on two blades and a great athlete.He chooses to shoot rather than check.Thank god his passport has been removed. We can sleep the better for that in Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 720.

    Send Jeremy Kyle over there with the Lie-Detector machine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 719.

    This proves that the world has gone mad, when you see journalists hailing triumphantly over the Magistrates verdict on Bail for Pistorius.
    A woman has been killed by Pistorius and that is a fact.
    If Pistorius is found innocent of the murder charge, then one year in custody is a small price to pay for killing someone.
    God help us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 718.

    I don't understand how his defence is mitigation.a man that careless and trigger happy should in jail. If it had been a Black South African they would not even have got a bail hearing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 717.

    bail is a decision about whether he is likely to abscond or not...... Given OP's fame and 'distinguishing' features, even if he did abscond it would be world wide news and he'd be back in custody before you knew it. Hence granting bail is a no brainer!

    Really? I thought Julian Assange was pretty well known too. Remind me how his trial is going?


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