Graphic pictures of Reeva Steenkamp’s dead body after she was killed by her athlete boyfriend Oscar Pistorius have been released to the public following a request from her family that they wanted “the world to see” the images as a warning to anyone thinking of using firearms.
Judge Thokozile Masipa approved the release of the images on Wednesday following a request from Chief Prosecutor Gerrie Nel on behalf of Ms Steenkamp’s family.
The decision came during the former Olympic athlete’s murder sentencing after his initial manslaughter conviction – for which he served 10 months of a five-year sentence – was upgraded to murder upon appeal.
Pistorius walked around North Gauteng High Court without his prosthetic legs on Wednesday as his lawyer Barry Roux attempted to show the double-amputee Olympic athlete is a vulnerable man who deserves leniency when sentenced, arguing he had no intent to kill his girlfriend and believed she was an intruder when he shot her through a door on Valentine’s Day 2013.
The pictures showing Ms Steenkamp’s fatal wounds, including a severe head injury, had previously been withheld from the public in order to “protect the integrity of the deceased”.
However, her father, Barry Steenkamp, asked for the pictures to be released to the public on Tuesday when he broke down in the witness box to tell the court how he and his wife have struggled to cope since his daughter’s murder.
Mr Steenkamp said he had seen “only one photo” of his daughter’s murdered body, which was produced in court when Mr Steenkamp was present two years ago, but wanted “the world to see” the others, as a warning about the dangers of firearms.
Repeating the request at Pistorius’ sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Chief Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said: “The court should have access to these photographs. The court itself should revisit certain things in sentencing.