Skip to main content

Uncle: Victim's family won't attend Oscar Pistorius' trial

From David Fitzpatrick and Drew Griffin, CNN Special Investigations Unit
March 7, 2013 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Reeva Steenkamp was shot and killed by boyfriend Oscar Pistorius
  • Facing a murder charge, he says he mistook her for an intruder
  • Steenkamp's uncle says the family will not attend the trial
  • Mike Steenkamp says he wants to forgive Pistorius, face to face

Cape Town, South Africa (CNN) -- Mike Steenkamp still wakes up in the morning expecting a phone call from his niece. That call never comes.

"It hasn't really sunk in to my way of thinking," he said.

Steenkamp and his daughter Kim Martin told CNN this week that they aren't focusing on why Reeva Steenkamp is gone. She was shot and killed just three weeks ago by her boyfriend, Olympian and South African track star Oscar Pistorius.

They are trying to avoid the speculation and debate that swirl around whether Pistorius intentionally shot and killed his 29-year-old girlfriend or whether he mistook her for an intruder. He's been charged with premeditated murder.

Former lead detective on Pistorius case resigns

Mike Steenkamp said the family has no plans to attend Pistorius' trial.

"We won't be present, I can tell you that now," he said.

Pistorius cell phone holds vital clue
Soccer player: Pistorius has dark side
Toobin: Pistorius plea deal is possible
Steenkamp's cousin: Truth will come out

That's because the family wants to focus on Reeva.

"I have to concentrate on her," Kim Martin explained. "I know that sounds crazy, but that's how I get from day to day.

"It's easier to deal with it if you don't concentrate on anything else other than the fact that Reeva's not here, and at the end of the day, she's not coming back."

Kim Martin and Reeva Steenkamp were like sisters, she said, sharing every detail of their lives. Reeva frequently stayed at her cousin's Cape Town home where Mike Steenkamp says he can still picture Reeva in the kitchen, helping prepare dinner.

Yet Martin said she only met Pistorius once, at a seaside cafe. She and Steenkamp chatted, catching up on their lives, as Martin settled her kids.

Her interaction that day with Pistorius "wasn't long enough to form an opinion on his personality."

"What I saw of him ... he did seem like a nice guy," Martin said.

Before Reeva Steenkamp started dating the man nicknamed "Blade Runner" for his lightning-fast prosthetic legs, she was famous in her own right.

A law school graduate with a vibrant personality, she had a slew of modeling gigs under her belt and the striking, platinum-haired beauty had been gearing up for her reality television debut.

Her growing exposure brought more opportunities. She served as a presenter for FashionTV in South Africa, was an FHM cover girl and was the face of cosmetics company Avon.

FHM described her as a "beautiful, intelligent and warm-hearted woman" who had a "wicked" sense of humor.

"She was the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on earth," said Capacity Relations, the agency that represented her.

Yet, despite her fame, she was still her mother's baby girl, Mike Steenkamp recalled.

Reeva's uncle told the story of when Oscar and Reeva were driving on a highway and Oscar, prone to fast cars, was supposedly speeding.

"(Reeva) phoned her mum and said ... 'Mum, Oscar's speeding,'" Steenkamp recalled. "So June took the phone and said, 'Let me speak to Oscar.' And (she) said to Oscar, 'Hey listen, that's my precious, and my only daughter ... she's my angel. And you'd better slow down or I will get the mafia onto you afterwards.' And Reeva said afterwards, 'Mum, he slowed down.'"

Steenkamp's cousin: Truth will come out
South African law expert on Pistorius
Gated community not enough in S. Africa
Steenkamp's cousin: Truth will come out

Now, Pistorius, 26, is free on bail as he awaits trial. His next court date is scheduled for June 4. Prosecutors say the track star killed his girlfriend after a heated argument in the early morning hours of Valentine's Day.

Pistorius case brings attention to South African gun culture

Pistorius and his attorneys insist he thought an intruder was hiding in a toilet room inside the bathroom of his Pretoria home. He says he fired in a fit of terror before realizing Steenkamp was inside.

"I'd like to ask Oscar why he didn't lean over and touch my cousin first... and say 'are you okay?' 'keep quiet,' 'I'm coming now,'" Kim Martin said, shortly after her cousin's death.

As for what happens to Pistorius, Mike Steenkamp said it doesn't matter. Nothing will bring back their beloved Reeva.

But he does want one thing: a chance to meet with Pistorius and forgive him.

"That way, I can find more peace with the situation," he said, fighting back tears.

Steenkamp says it's his Christian faith that prompts him to want to offer forgiveness. And he wants to do it face to face, not through the media.

"Whatever the outcome, I feel with my belief (that) if Christ could forgive me when he died on the cross, why can't I?"

Watch Anderson Cooper 360° weeknights 8pm ET. For the latest from AC360° click here.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Oscar Pistorius
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2117 GMT (0517 HKT)
A stuffy, overcrowded cell. Perhaps two or three men to a single bunk. Lockdown for most of the day.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0939 GMT (1739 HKT)
He was the so-called "Fastest Man on No Legs," and his inspiring story captured the imagination of the world at the London Olympics.
September 13, 2014 -- Updated 0423 GMT (1223 HKT)
The striking, platinum-haired model was gearing up for her reality television debut.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 HKT)
Her name is Thokozile Matilda Masipa, and she is the woman who decided the fate of athlete Oscar Pistorius.
June 3, 2013 -- Updated 1745 GMT (0145 HKT)
Reeva Steenkamp on the beach in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Previously unseen photographs of Reeva Steenkamp show the South African beauty just months before her tragic death.
February 16, 2014 -- Updated 1708 GMT (0108 HKT)
The photos of Oscar Pistorius and girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp appear to show a young couple in love.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
A week before her death, South African model Reeva Steenkamp talked about her secure, blissful environment.
March 3, 2014 -- Updated 0913 GMT (1713 HKT)
He was the first amputee to compete at an able-bodied Olympics. Now, he's being accused of murdering his girlfriend.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0831 GMT (1631 HKT)
Judge Masipa has Oscar Pistorius stand up as she reads her verdicts.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1518 GMT (2318 HKT)
CNN's Robyn Curnow looks back at some of the key moments in the trial.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0907 GMT (1707 HKT)
CNN's Robyn Curnow reflects on her visit to athlete Oscar Pistorius' home, before he was on trial for murder.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 0744 GMT (1544 HKT)
Take a virtual tour of the athlete's apartment to see what happened.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 0926 GMT (1726 HKT)
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel is known as the "bull dog" in South Africa's legal circles, and it's easy to see why.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
As the athlete is grilled in court, Becky Anderson asks psychologist Dr. James Thompson about his state of mind.
ADVERTISEMENT