Wednesday, March 26, 2014

22 Questions For Oscar Pistorius

Link to OP's original affidavit here.

1. At 22H00 your legs were off and you say you were in bed watching television.  What did you have for dinner, and when did you and Reeva have dinner?  What were you watching on television, which side of the bed were you on, on which side of the bed is your handgun, and on which side of the bed are your fans?

2. Reeva's shoes and overnight bag were on the left side of the bed.  Your gun was under the bed, on which side?

3. What woke you up early in the morning of 14 February?  What did you say to Reeva when you got up to get the fan, and why were the fans outside to begin with?

4. If you were hot, why not simply open the door to let cool air in?  Why not turn the air conditioner/thermostat on? As it was you brought the fans in then did nothing with them because you thought you heard a noise? Could that noise not have been Reeva opening the bathroom window because she was also hot?

5. After you say you heard the bathroom window slide open, you screamed for Reeva to call the police.  What did she answer?

6. You were too scared to switch a light on, it was pitch dark in the bedroom, yet you were able to find your gun and walk towards the bathroom? How long did that take?  While you were walking in the pitch dark, did you not hear Reeva in bed behind you or any other sounds coming from the bathroom?  Or was it a case that in your terror you walked quickly forward screaming, and thus screaming, were deaf to any noises coming either from Reeva or the intruder? In other words, you weren't listening to ascertain what was happening either in front or behind you.

7. Did the light in the bathroom not provide any light to make it less pitch dark in the bedroom?  Also, did the lights from the house opposite yours (opposite the balcony with the curtains, blinds and fans) not produce ambient light against the curtains?

8. You heard movement in the toilet, and the door was closed.  What sort of movement did you hear?  Did you ask who it was?  And having shouted to call the police, did the 'intruder' behind the door, who was Reeva, remain silent throughout?

9.  If the intruder (Reeva) remained silent, did you scream hysterically, and this sounded like a woman?

10.  Can you demonstrate, right now, how you scream like a woman?  Possibly the witnesses can listen and see whether these sounds coincide with the sounds they heard.

11. If you were so terrified, why did you approach the danger?

12. If you were so terrified, why did you not make any attempt to find out where Reeva was, and how she was?  If there was an intruder in the house, was it not possible that Reeva and the intruder could have been in the toilet at the same time?

13. You found the toilet door closed.  In fact it was locked and bathroom light was on.  Even so you elected to shoot through the closed (locked) door. In your affidavit you say: "I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police." Did you know at that point that both phones were in the bathroom?  Was it also pitch dark in the bathroom, is that why you didn't see your/her phone?   So you were firing shots whilst shouting?  Could you not have shouted, who is there?  Could you have fired a warning shot? Why did you fire four shots?  Why did you fire four shots in four different directions? Why did you fire shots directed towards the toilet?  If the intruder was using the toilet, or sitting on the toilet, you should have been aware that you were not in any imminent danger. Why not one or two?  Also, why did you stop shooting after the fourth shot?  Also, why did you stop shouting after the fourth shot?  Surely you had no idea who was behind the door and if there was still a danger?  Why did you stop shouting to Reeva after the fourth shot?

14. At what point did you shout Help Help Help?

15. When you reached the bed you realised Reeva was not in bed.  How come?  Could you see her, or did you feel that she was not there?  Once again, with the bathroom light on, how could the bedroom still be pitch dark?

16. After you found your toilet door locked, and realised Reeva wasn't in bed, you say you opened the balcony door and went outside and screamed for help.  Is that when you screamed Help Help Help?  And it was only you screaming at this point?  And this was after 03:17?  Did the nieghbours opposite your balcony with all the lights on not hear anything? Why have the neighbours nearest your house not testified as to what they saw or heard?

17. Why did you not call an ambulance at this point?  And why call for help if you had shot through a door and had no idea what happened, if anything?  Reeva may have been downstairs?  Why not check downstairs and try to find out where she is. Why would she be in the bathroom necessarily, and not an intruder? How would you have known anyone was necessarily behind the door?

18. You put on your prosthetics presumably with enough light coming through the curtains, and then went to the bathroom to kick the door on, during which time you 'think' you turned the light on.  Did you or didn't you?

19. You bashed the door open with a cricket bat.  How long did it take to break open the locked door? By this time you had still not called for Reeva, or the police or an ambulance.

20. You found Reeva still alive, slumped over the toilet. You don't mention that she was bleeding or any of the wounds you'd inflicted on her.  You also don't mention the bullets you used, how many bullets you fired, or the blood on the floor.  What did you do to help Reeva besides drag her out of the toilet?  Did you say anything to her, did she say anything to you?

21. Surely, given the extent of her injuries, it would have been better to treat the deceased where she still was, and carrying her downstairs, on prosthetics, risked further injury to her.  Why was no attempt made to stop her bleeding upstairs?  Was a tourniquet used?

22. You tried to render assistance to Reeva, but she died in your arms.  You had two fingers in Reeva's mouth when the doctor arrived.  If she was trying to speak or breathe (since she was still alive) and your intention was - after all - to kill her, surely by controlling her airways you could control whether she could incriminate you or not?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Reeva in her own words (via Whatsapp)


I’m not 100% sure why I am sitting down to type you a message first but perhaps it says alot about what’s going on here. Today was one of my best friend’s engagements and I wanted to stay longer.  I was enjoying myself, but it’s over now. You have picked on me incessantly, since you got back from CT and I understand that you are sick, but it’s nasty. Yesterday wasn’t nice for either of us but we managed to pull through and communicate well enough to show our care for each other is greater than the drama that attacked us. 
I was not flirting with anyone today. I feel sick that you suggested that and that you made a scene at the table and made us leave early. I’m terribly disappointed in how the day ended and how you left me. We are living in a double-standard relationship where you can be mad about how I deal with stuff when you are very quick to act, cold and offish, when you are unhappy. Every five seconds I hear how you’ve dated another chick. You really have dated a lot of people, yet you get upset if I mention one funny story with a long term boyfriend. I do everything to make you happy, and to not say anything to rock the boat with you. You do everything to throw tantrums in front of people. I have been upset by you for two days now. 
I’m so upset, I left Darren’s party early.  So upset I can’t get that day back. I’m scared of you sometimes, and of how you snap at me, and how will react to me sometimes. You make me happy 90% of the time, and I think we are amazing together but I am not some other bitch now trying to kill your vibe. 
I am the girl who let go with you, even when I was scared out of my mind to.  I am the girl who fell in love with you and wanted to tell you this weekend. But I am also the girl who gets sidestepped when you are in a shit mood. When I feel you have done so why try anymore?  I get snapped at, and told my accent and voices are annoying. I touch your neck to show you I care.  You tell me to stop.  Stop chewing gum. Do this.  Don’t do that. You don’t want to hear stuff.  Cut me off. Your endorsements.  Your reputation. Your impression of someone innocent blown out of proportion fucked up a special day for me. I’m sorry if you truly felt I was hitting on my friend Sam’s husband. And I’m sorry that you think that little of me. 
From the outside I think it looks like we are a struggle and maybe that’s what we are. I just want to love and be loved, be happy and make someone so happy. Maybe we can’t do that for each other because right now I know you aren’t happy and I’m certainly very unhappy and sad. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Rise and Fall of Oscar Pistorius -Mentoring, marketing and the risk of attaching brands to people - by Nick van der Leek

Note: This article originally appeared in 2013 in the INSIGHT section of Finweek magazine.

Is 13 an unlucky number? The year 2013 has gotten off to a rocky start in world sport. First Lance, now Oscar.
Even if nothing else goes wrong, it’s already an annus horribilis. So what’s happening to our heroes, and why? These are crucial questions for the $750bn sports industry. But perhaps the most important
question is how did it happen to our boy?

The upside

Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius was born in Sandton, in 1986. Pistorius grew up in a
Christian home with an elder brother,Carl, and a younger sister, Aimée. Due to
a congenital absence of fibulae, both legs were amputated halfway between his knees
and ankles at 11 months of age. He attended Pretoria Boys High and played water
polo and tennis at provincial level. He also participated in wrestling. In June 2003 he
suffered a knee injury and began runningto aid rehabilitation in early 2004 at the
University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre. Ampie Louw was and remains his
coach. That same year Pistorius competed in his first Paralympics (in Athens) where
he won a gold and bronze medal.In August last year Oscar Pistorius
became the first amputee to compete at the Olympic Games, which brought his fame
to its zenith as it reached a worldwide audience.“As I came out of the tunnel, I saw
my friends and family, including my grandmother with the South African flag,”
he said. “On the blocks, I didn’t know whether I should cry or be happy.”

He came second in the first heat of the 400m (in 45.44, a season’s best), but finished
last in the semi-final (46.54 seconds).In the 4 × 400 metres relay race final on
10 August, SA’s relay team finished eighth out of nine in a season’s best time for the
team. Pistorius ran the final leg in 45.9 seconds. He carried the country’s flag during
the closing ceremony.

Following appearances on Letterman and Larry King Live, Tom Hanks began
bidding for the film rights to the “Blade Runner” story. Later in the same year Time
magazine included Pistorius in its list of the World’s 100 Most Influential People.
By the end of 2012 the young South African had set up a compelling tale. He was
enjoying worldwide popularity and sufficient financial security to splurge on a
R3.5m McLaren, which he described as “a Christmas present”.

The UK’s Guardian website called Pistorius “the golden boy with an edge of
steel”. Together with his glamorous girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, some Brits
described the couple as “South Africa’s answer to Posh and Becks”.

The downside

In 2002, Pistorius’s mother Sheila died as a result of adverse medical complications
related to an incorrect diagnosis. Her son credited her as one of the greatest influences
in his life and a major driving force behind his success. “There wasn’t much
scope for me to think about my disability as a disadvantage or to pity myself.” Instead
of introspection, Pistorius seemed to go overboard as an extrovert – fighting for a
place in the sun, dating a string of beautiful women, pushing aside potential rivals and
driving (and crashing) fast boats, cars and motorbikes.

In 2009 he survived a speedboat crash, which required 172 stitches in total. After
that he was in a motorbike crash. In his biography Blade Runner Pistorius is also
revealed to have crashed his car after falling asleep behind the wheel (en route to a
girlfriend after a fight). In 2009 he was arrested and charged with common assault
after an incident at a party (involving Cassidy Taylor-Memmory), and spent the
night in the local jail.

Following his ascendancy at the Olympics proper, Pistorius’s star began to fall as
early as September last year, when a Brazilian rival beat him into second place, leading
to a furious outburst. Realising he’d tarnished his squeaky clean image, Pistorius
quickly backtracked and issued an apology.

Later that month he appeared on thebeaches of the Seychelles in the SABC3
magazine show Top Billing with Samantha Taylor. But a New York paper appeared to
show a dalliance with a Russian model, Anastassia Khozzissova, while Pistorius
was in London.

Three months later, and back in SA, Pistorius threatened to break the legs of
former soccer player and Supersport commentator, Mark Batchelor, a friend of
Clifton Shores producer Quinton van der Burgh, when Pistorius discovered that
Taylor had cheated on him with Van den Burgh while he (Oscar) was at the Olympics.

But Taylor later said: “Oscar is certainlynot what people think he is.” In November he arrived at the SA Sports Awards in Sandton with law graduate and FHM model Reeva Steenkamp. Both were cagey about
whether they were in a relationship or not. “It’s just a coincidence that we’re sitting
at the same table and arrived in the same car,” Steenkamp demurred. At the end of
the evening they left together.

Taylor (who felt she was in a relationship with Oscar during the sports awards - and Taylor and Pistorius had in fact gone together to Sun City the previous week) also revealed that Steenkamp was dating a friend of Pistorius’s (Francois Hougaard).

Pistorius’s circle of friends, based on social media photos etc, seemed to include an
interesting “bad boys’ club”: the ex-con Gayton MacKenzie, rugby player Francois
Hougaard, South African professional boxer Kevin Lerena and Justin Divaris
(CEO of a luxury car retailer). The underlying theme to these friendships: fast cars,
big muscles, creepy tattoos, glamorous parties and beautiful women.

In an interview with Rapport, Taylor was “prepared to reveal what (Pistorius) made me go through”, but subsequently withdrew what she had said. In November 2012 The Star reported a charge of defamation
had been laid against Pistorius, who had in turn laid charges of intimidation against the former soccer player Marc Batchelor.

By the beginning of 2013, when Pistorius purchased a R3.5m sportscar, friends were worried that his insomnia and risky behaviour were getting worse. A visiting writer from The New York Times perhaps
came closest to uncovering the “other” Oscar, when he described Pistorius as “more than a little crazy”, citing a skittish, gun-loving insomniac with a “frenzied need to take on the world at maximum
speed and with minimum caution”. Pistorius alludes to his insomnia in the very same The New York Times magazine article by Michael Sokolove, describing a visit to an all-night tattoo parlour from 02:30 to
about 08:30 and a pattern of sleeping disorders.

The contents of the article itself probably did nothing to soothe Pistorius’s anxieties, especially this paragraph:
“The most provocative aspect of Weyand and Bundle’s argument – and clearly the biggest affront to Pistorius – is their calculation that the Cheetah blades, over the length of 400 meters, or once around
the track, give him an 11.9-second advantage.
That would make him no better than an average high school runner.”

Having to constantly fight for a place to race (and then also defend his achievements), rooming with an MMA fighter, and trying to be one of the boys would have exacted a constant, heavy toll. But
shooting at the local range was a questionable form of stress relief. One of the officers investigating the Silver Lakes crime scene is reported to have said, that in terms of the Domestic Violence Act, Pistorius
should not have been allowed to possess any firearms. He had seven pending
licences, including one for a semi-automatic.

Note: At the time of writing it was speculated, following the discovery of steroids and signs of heavy drinking in Pistorius’s house, that these might have fuelled “roid rage” and could partially explain how Pistorius may have woken up at 03:00 and mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder. These allegations were later dropped.

The result

Pistorius’s arrest is of course rock bottom for the sports marketer. While Pistorius’s agent Peet van Zyl assured the media that his client was still enjoying “overwhelming support” from “a lot of fans”, Van Zyl also
admitted that recent events were “from a management side… a tragic circumstance”.

He added: “We can only give Oscar our support at this point in time.”

But Oscargate is a nightmare of entirely different proportions to Lancegate. In fact while Armstrong’s prospects appear bleak, one can still see Lance maintaining a fanbase and continuing to compete and
enjoy public support. The same is a lot less clear with Pistorius, whose meteoric rise is based far more on public perception than actual performances.

It is perhaps surprising then that up to now some of Pistorius’s sponsors have yet to formally break ties. Ironically, Pistorius’s South African partner, M-Net, appears to be the first to have cut and run. Within
hours of the shooting at the upmarket Silver Lakes estate, M-Net was pulling down its billboards and dismantling its entire “Oscar Night” campaign with immediate effect. But Nike’s sponsorship of Pistorius,
thought to be worth $2m, is already under fire. The online ad for Nike featuring the unfortunately worded tagline “I am the bullet in the chamber” was quickly removed from Pistorius’s website, although it’s not the first time Nike has associated itself with the idea of gear-as-weaponry; in fact it is fairly common in competitive sport.

The US’s aerodynamic cycling rim maker ZIPP uses the tagline “Speed Weaponry”. At the time of writing the logos of Össur, BT, Oakley, Nike and fashion house Thierry Mugler (Pistorius’s five main sponsors) remain visible at Nike and co remain tight lipped and are, for the moment,
standing by their man.
[Note: All sponsors subsequently dumped Pistorius.]

Interestingly, while Nike no longer sponsors or endorses Lance Armstrong, and remains on the fence on the Pistorius case (“pending the police investigation”). Nike continues to endorse Tiger Woods.
Clearly, celebrity brand endorsement is a perilous journey, not only for the brand but for the athlete who stands to lose everything overnight. Can the brands that are associated with Pistorius afford to wait for
the case to be heard? One director of a sports sponsorship company says that “even if … found innocent, he is damaged goods.

Brands need to act quickly to distance themselves from him… It’s the sensible thing to do. The director of sports marketing agency Brand Rapport reinforces this view, saying: “This is very different to the Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong cases… There’s no coming back from this.”

Thus Iceland’s Össur, a global leader in orthopaedics, which is saying a decision is“highly premature”, may find itself singed by the firestorm of negative press that is likely to ensue.
While Nike is a high-powered brand and saw a fit in Pistorius’s tenacity, the brand will also wish to erase the associations in a recent video that features Pistorius (“My body is my weapon. This is how I fight.”)

Pistorius himself may rue theday he tattooed Corinthians 9:26-27 on to his back, which reads: “I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. I execute each strike with intent. I beat my body and make it my slave...”

In future, brands will need to do detailed background checks and re-evaluate
their current celebrity endorsements. ■
Nick van der Leek

“Nike routinely works with the best athletes in the world, and Oscar Pistorius
stands out on that list...” – Arturo
Nunez, Nike Emerging Markets Marketing
Nike’s official message: “Nike extends
its deepest sympathy and condolences
to all families concerned following this
tragic incident. As it is a police matter,
Nike will not comment further at this
time.” Nike South Africa spokesperson
Seruscka Naidoo told AFP: “We’re not
commenting on our sponsorship or relationship.”
Naidoo added that the ‘I am
the bullet’ ad was on “Oscar’s website
[but] not a Nike-owned website.”
“BT’s relationship with Oscar has developed
over a number of years and we’re
extremely proud to be supporting such a
phenomenal athlete and human being.”
– Suzi Williams, BT
BT’s high-profile ‘Ambassador’ campaign
(significantly raising Pistorius’s
profile and used in 2012) was short listed
as ‘Best Sponsorship of a Sports Team or
Individual’ on 14 February, the day of the
incident. The following day a BT spokesperson
said: “We are shocked by this terrible,
tragic news. But we have no further
comment at this stage.”
“Oscar is a giant of modern sport. A pioneer.
The master not only of the possible
but the seemingly impossible.” – Jonathon
McEvoy, Olympics Correspondent,
Daily Mail
“As well as owning a pistol and machine
gun, at the time of Miss Steenkamp’s
death he reportedly had seven outstanding
firearm licence applications. One was
for same type of assault rifle used in the
recent Sandy Hook school massacre in
the US.” – Dan Newling, Daily Mail

Blade Runner ‘homicide’:
Breaking news worldwide
■ The Anguish of Oscar – The Times
■ Girls, guns and the dark side of the Blade Runner – Daily Mail
■ 3 shots. Screams. Silence. 3 more shots – The Sun
■ The Dark Side of Oscar Pistorius – The Independent
■ World icon in hell – El Pais (Spanish daily)
■ The bloodied destiny of Oscar Pistorius – Le Soir (Belgian daily)
■ Olympic hero shoots girlfriend dead – Bild (Germany’s biggest selling newspaper)
■ Amputee runner arrested. Gunned-down body found at Mr Pistorius’s home –
Mistook girlfriend as robber? – Asahi (Japan) ■
“What we have to ask ourselves about
big-time sports more broadly is how
we prepare great athletes for the
responsibilities of leadership. And I
don’t think we have good answers for
Mentoring programmes that enable
athletes to manage themselves, as athletes,
as people and as ‘brands’ to leverage
their exposure to the media – that’s
one option.
Another is from the client side.
Howard Bloom, writing for sportsbusinessnews.
com stresses the need
for ‘morals clauses’ in athlete endorsement
contracts. This is perhaps the
best way of managing the way both
the brand and the ambassador will be
represented; it rewards positive reinforcement
and punishes
misrepresentations and any
negative publicity. While morals
clauses have “become
standard in athlete endorsement
contacts since the late
Eighties”, and are what Bloom
describes as “a significant element
of most, if not all, endorsement
agreements” it’s possible
that the level of moral accountability
ought to be far more rigorous.
The athlete may have to
agree to simply not “get into trouble
on a regular basis” in order to
guarantee a basic level of ‘reputational
In addition, clauses can allow for
sanctions or fines on the part of ath-
What should
Oscar do?
If one speculates given the evidence
so far, it is highly unlikely that Pistorius
will be acquitted, even if his lawyers
prove he acted under the influence of
steroids or other drugs (this defence
has not worked in the past). If he
pleads guilty and makes a deal with
the State he could serve 15 years on
good behaviour, sell the house the cars
and invest his current fortune while
serving his sentence.
He still has youth on his side, but he
might feel tempted to spend a small
fortune on his legal defence. This
appears to be his current strategy
given the legal team and advisers that
are already on the payroll. The former
option means that at least he will have
money when he re-establishes himself
in society, and tries to make a living
once more in circa 2030. ■

Will brands rethink endorsements or brand ambassadors after this? No – we can’t
imagine Nike not being associated with sports stars. They’ll move on to the next hero
with feet of clay. Most of the brands out there are big enough to survive the fallout.
Nike has loads of other stars to endorse it. It’s small brands that become intimately
associated with a celebrity that are most at risk. – Sarah Britten, communications
I think that there is going to be far more attention given to this issue. In light of Tiger
Woods, Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pistorius – companies will have to relook their
stance on sponsorship. Interesting is the response rate of sponsors ie with Tiger Woods
– Nike supported him and continued its sponsorship; regarding Lance Armstrong, the
sponsorship was retained through the allegations and then pulled once he confessed;
to doping; regarding Oscar – there was an immediate ‘pulling’ of [some] advertising
This is a new challenge for companies to deal with, especially as these really “loved”
brands (the nation and the world has adored Oscar and the devastation of finding out
another ‘dark’ side of a brand has huge implications – companies will definitely be
relooking sponsorship of sporting icons – not in terms of not sponsoring them – the
benefits are too huge), but in the context of how they are managed from a risk perspective
to ensure company

What should Oscar do?
If one speculates given the evidence
so far, it is highly unlikely that Pistorius
will be acquitted, even if his lawyers
prove he acted under the influence of
steroids or other drugs (this defence
has not worked in the past). If he
pleads guilty and makes a deal with
the State he could serve 15 years on
good behaviour, sell the house the cars
and invest his current fortune while
serving his sentence.
He still has youth on his side, but he
might feel tempted to spend a small
fortune on his legal defence. This
appears to be his current strategy
given the legal team and advisers that
are already on the payroll. The former
option means that at least he will have
money when he re-establishes himself
in society, and tries to make a living
once more in circa 2030. ■

Blade Runner ‘homicide’:
Breaking news worldwide
■ The Anguish of Oscar – The Times
■ Girls, guns and the dark side of the Blade Runner – Daily Mail
■ 3 shots. Screams. Silence. 3 more shots – The Sun
■ The Dark Side of Oscar Pistorius – The Independent
■ World icon in hell – El Pais (Spanish daily)
■ The bloodied destiny of Oscar Pistorius – Le Soir (Belgian daily)
■ Olympic hero shoots girlfriend dead – Bild (Germany’s biggest selling newspaper)
■ Amputee runner arrested. Gunned-down body found at Mr Pistorius’s home –
Mistook girlfriend as robber? – Asahi (Japan) ■

Thursday, March 13, 2014

#Roux refers Colonel Vermeulen to Cricket bat bashing door - VIDEO RE-ENACTMENT #Oscar Trail

Oscar and Reeva’s tragic fairy-tale – why we care and why it matters that we do

Oscar and Reeva’s tragic fairy-tale  –  why we care and why it matters that we do
As Shakespearean tragedies go there’s no topping Hamlet.  Early on in the first act Hamlet says to Horatio:
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy…

What does it mean?  At first glance, we may not know, or think we don’t.  Our fascination with Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp is the same.  We care, but we don’t know why.  Some people wish not to care, calling it a circus and they tell us they are actively trying to filter out the whole spectacle.  The reasons we care though are quite profound.  For in both Oscar and Reeva there is the mythic journey, the Transcendence of pain and circumstances (which is always heroic) as well as the Transformation, physical and psychological, when the total being emerges as something new, and something better.

In Oscar’s case, his dilemma involved growing up and becoming ‘a real man’, equal to the able-bodied around him.  Without being scornful, one might appreciate this journey as the genuine, heartfelt desire of Pinocchio to be a ‘real boy’, and thus worthy of the love of his ‘father’ and ‘maker’, and thus part of and fully integrated into the wider world of the living.  His Transformation evolved beyond merely becoming an equal who could stand with his peers, but – as we know – an equal of Olympic proportions.  Becoming an icon and even a sex symbol required Transcendence of his inner pain and suffering that is beyond the ken of ordinary mortals.  To remake himself out of the low, clunky functioning that was his lot meant transcending the identity foisted upon him by the world.  Transcending the lottery of what one inherits when one is born, and the world’s limiting and discriminating narrative of one’s formative circumstances isn’t easy. 

Mirror Mirror

Following Reeva’s tragic death, our attentions have been sharply focused on the fall of that hypermasculine, handsome hero.  We may not realise it, but in Reeva we find mirrored precisely the same profound Transformation and Transcendence that we encounter with Oscar.  In fact it may be even more so.  Coming as she did from modest means and simple beginnings, Reeva’s narrative seems to fit comfortably in a rags-to-riches mythos, a sort of modern day Cinderella.  But it is actually a far bigger story than just the cliché of a sweet princess, lost in the woods, doggedly making her way to her prince. 

The key to Reeva lies in that defining moment when she broke her back.  She fell off her horse, and thus incapacitated, lay for weeks on a hospital bed.  Law or Modelling?  She did both, but she committed her vital self to the latter.  Why?  The response to the hospital bed was a profound sense of feeling trapped and disabled.  Not only by her circumstances at the time, but her circumstances as a theme, as a cage trapping a young woman who wanted to emerge, wanted to escape the paralysing anonymity of her life.  This was something that even a successful career in law wouldn’t give her.  She wanted to expand and perpetuate herself, and while Oscar’s road was towards becoming a functional, physical equal with his fellow man, Reeva’s was to transition into another class entirely. On her side was a perpetually sunny personality, a sympathetic soul and an uncommon sincerity.  But the modelling world is another kettle of fish, and will test the mettle of the most resilient Pollyanna.   Ask anyone who has tried, it isn’t easy.  Beyond the sheer drive and discipline involved, the personal costs to the inner self are high.

Beyond Pollyanna

While Reeva’s road may seem psychological, and in many respects it was, just like Oscar she also had to physically transform herself.  Her height, weight and hair all had to be manipulated, dyed, honed and toned.  She had to take full ownership and control over her physical body and beat her body with Olympic discipline into sweaty submission, day in and day out.  These sessions, when hours become days and days become years, and all that blood and sweat has produced few results, the gnawing insecurity can erupt into a tearful sense of it all being for nothing.  An “up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege” as Jerry McGuire once put it.

Over a period of years Reeva carved away at her physicality, moulding and shaping herself into the waif, the goddess.  At the same time, and this aspect is widely under-reported and underestimated, Reeva was slowly, strategically, building up a personal brand.  Charm, a sense of humour and her common touch meant she intuitively had a gift for this. The important psychological breadcrumbs she leaves behind are in the choices she made when it came to boyfriends.  These tell us more about the person underneath that brand. Loving deeply, but not often, as Reeva elevated herself she chose partners who matched her position on her climb up the ladder of success.  With Francois Hougaard and Oscar Pistorius there is an acknowledgement for the first time that her modest circumstances were finally behind her.  Her best friend, Gina Myers, at the beginning of 2013, reinforces this psychology. Myers says the two young women had spoken and agreed not to ‘settle’.  It is a diplomatic way of saying Snow White must harden her heart against the dwarves in order to find her prince and the happiness she deserves.

A final question we should ask is why were both these individuals so incredibly driven?  Why, and what drove them? Was it just big dreams that inspired them, or was it a far greater – and perhaps more desperate – need: to escape.  To trample the worm chewing at who they were from underneath.  Both individuals also seemed to have an overpowering need to prove themselves to disapproving, absent fathers.  This is also where we come eventually to the why.  Shakespeare has Hamlet point out to us just how little even the most educated people can explain.  It may seem strange how little we know about ourselves and this harsh world we live in, but this is because we are so settled on, so addicted to, and so caught up in our own philosophies.  Shakespeare’s message is that there so many things in heaven and earth that we don’t know about.  Most of us lead uninspiring lives based on an amalgam of our own the world’s limiting narratives for ourselves. In Oscar and Reeva we permit ourselves massive Transference.  We are voyeurs in their mythic journey, we participate vicariously in their triumphs, their happiness and their failures, and we can do so from the safety and anonymity of the pavilions.  At the same time, our voyeurism allows us some temporary significance, as we try to elevate ourselves to judges and advocates.  But what our need for Transference really shows with glass-like clarity, is the sharp cut of our own under-achievements. 

In looking at them, we have to acknowledge our own lack of courage, our own sharply fragmented lives and fear of living. And in this we find ourselves caught up in more than just a cautionary fairy tale. It is a moment of awakening for us, a chance to set our own lives right.  Looking outward, we dip our toes into other lives and other possibilities, and consider there may be something beyond our philosophies.  Something important.  To activate ourselves as Oscar and Reeva did means making a dream real at your very core.  It means resurrecting and remembering those dreams that resonate with our inner organism.  The real trick is finding the fortitude to go out there and meet them, come what may.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Oscar Case: Challenging South Africa’s Ever Changing Narrative

Analysis by Nick van der Leek

“Was it a mockery?” This was the response from the prosecution’s star witness, Dr Michelle Burger, to badgering from defense attorney Barry Roux.  Roux was attempting, not for the first time, to get Burger to concede that there was an inconsistency in the idea of a man wanting to kill his girlfriend, but shouting for help at the same time.  Her response that this may have been a ploy by Pistorius to cover his tracks prompted an emotional response from Roux. In fact his response to this was his most impassioned rejoinder thus far in the trial.  But the judge agreed that the defense lawyer had overstepped the mark, and was indeed badgering Burger, telling him, "I really think you have exhausted this.”

Burger, who is Afrikaans, may not have meant “mockery” in the conventional way that it is understood, which is ‘to ridicule’ or ‘show contempt’.  The lecturer at the Department of Construction Economics at Pretoria University, in the nation’s capital, was alluding instead to the possibility of a charade, though other words also come to mind such as ‘pretense’, ‘sham’, ‘farce’ and ‘travesty’, as in ‘a travesty of justice’.  Is that what the world is witnessing in this South African court?  If justice must be done, by all accounts, the trial so far is living up to expectations that justice is also being seen to be done. Is that sufficient?

Voyeurism and Charades

Because this voyeurism isn’t without irony (another word, incidentally that can be associated with ‘mockery’).  In Nel and Roux, two of South Africa’s best legal brains, we also have two Afrikaans white men, pleading their case before a black judge who happens to be a woman.  There have been interpreters on hand, also black, who were not always able to make sense of what witnesses (again white, again Afrikaans), are saying, so much so that witnesses have decided instead to give their testimonies in English (their second language). On DSTV, a pay-television channel dedicated to 24/7 coverage of the trial, many of the experts analysing this case are black editors and journalists, and black legal professionals.  It is unusual but perhaps necessary, this reversal, a crime committed by a white celebrity in a wealthy enclave of Afrikaners, analysed by so many black experts, journalists and commentators. This is a situation where a violent, and some would say heinous crime, has taken place in one of South Africa’s wealthiest neighbourhoods.  In fact, crime statistics from Boschkop Police station in the Pretoria suburb of Lynwood Ridge (which handled the arrest of Oscar Pistorius) show for a fact that the estates under scrutiny are amongst the safest in South Africa.

But Pistorius’ defense insists that he is innocent, and further, that his mistake is innocent.  Specifically his case aims to show a white man killing a white woman was brought about by the imagined threat of a black stranger, as Margie Orford of South Africa’s Daily Maverick online has speculated. Sipho Hlongwane, a South African columnist with Business Day highlighted comments made by Alan Dershowitz, the American criminal lawyer, who told Piers Morgan on CNN recently that the trial was ‘racist’ and the country a ‘failed’ state.  These comments caused an uproar, perhaps rightly so.  But there can be no doubt that South Africa is failing in many critical areas. 

There are hints and signs of this, of course.  Some of these hints are glaring, such as the unqualified, bogus interpreter flanking both the American and South African presidents at Mandela’s memorial service just a few months ago.  If that was not a case of the most brazen, fraudulent pretence the world has ever seen, it is difficult to think of one that could top it. Another is the South African presidents sprawling $20 million mansion, paid for by taxpayers under the pretence (that word again) of ‘security upgrades’. South Africa has seen its last two police commissioners fired, and McBride, an ex-criminal and terrorist, (also a police chief and also fired) recently appointed to the role of chief of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). So is this trial, even if it is showing justice to be done, not also a pretense for the state trying to show that justice is being done, when in the background, in the corridors and trenches, it obviously is not?  

At the same time the Oscar trial is underway, there has been a case televised of massive police brutality coming from Cape Town.  Where is justice if it is not in the courts, not in police stations, not in cities or the suburbs? Even in the context of this trial, the interpreters have either failed to turn up, or shown themselves to be clumsily unreliable.  While there are a number of issues one could add where South Africa is failing its citizens: crime, poor policing, poor service delivery, roads, transport, water, national electricity, corruption at the highest levels, racism at the lowest, interpretation may be a key area where it is not only South Africa that is failing, but many other civilised countries.

Interpretation is another way of saying, distorting, or explaining one’s version of something. At the end of February South Africa’s president addressed the nation, and called his achievements “a good story”.  Is that his interpretation? Often, we know, our own political leaders play word games with us.  They famously make promises in general terms, using conventional terms that cannot be held against them in a legal setting. But it’s not just politicians who excel at stretching the truth.  Or lawyers, who are famous at bending versions of reality until they resemble outright lies. What about us?  How do the media, big business and the public, for example, participate in the cult of celebrity?  And are we not all culpable to some extent in a collective greed for followers, friends, fortune or renown? 

The Media Monster

When this trial opened, the world watched and was immediately alerted to the dreadful scrutiny of the media and the unwillingness from key witnesses to be subjected to it.  That is what the media can be. It can be monstrous, and terrifying in itself.  In its sheer greed, and reach. The first witnesses have communicated a desire for privacy that questions the appropriateness and sensitivity (and even the lawfulness) of that blinding glare.  Whether performing as a finely-tuned microscope or as a firestorm, the cult (a word which could be expanded to ‘culture’) of the celebrity, should perhaps be revisited.  The one question that appears to be avoided in the pursuit of fame and celebrity is just this: is it authentic?  Is it real?  Surely it is in the media’s ambit to answer, rather than collude, in the answering of this question.

This of course raises another irony. "I listened to a woman die,” Dr Burger testified on the first day of the trial. “I listened to her petrified screams for help, life-threatening, petrifying... Because of the climax of her shouts, I knew something terrible was happening.” Burger, a Real Estate specialist (and only the 4th person in South Africa to be awarded a PhD in this study field) went on to say (through tears) she had suffered mild post traumatic disorder from those screams.  "Every day,” she said, “it comes back to me. Those terrifying calls for help. Those screams, those terrible, terrible screams."

Deconstructing the Masculine Brand
But Pistorius’s defense lawyer dismissed those screams as those of his own client calling for help. “The accused screams like a woman when he is anxious,” Roux insisted. “I put to you that it does. Decibel tests were done.” Of course this was the headline chosen by national newspapers the next day: “Oscar screams like a woman.” The public found this ridiculous, if not downright farcical.  Before the end of the week, the state’s advocate asked an ex-girlfriend of Pistorius, Samantha Taylor if she had heard him shouting. She testified that she had.  “Does he sound like a woman?” Nel asked her at the time. Miss Taylor smiled slightly and replied simply: “That is not true – he sounds like a man.”

The real reason for that slight smile, of course, is that Pistorius’ brand has been built around his masculine good looks, his athleticism, his courage and his determination.  People around the world have been inspired by his fighting spirit, his will to win, his ability to rise above the difficult circumstances surrounding his disability, and the inspiration implicit in turning a negative into a positive.  His brand is the brand of a hero.  Not just a man, but a ‘bladerunner’.  Not just a man but ‘the fastest man with no legs’.  To hear that one’s hero screams like a woman when anxious is contrary to Oscar Pistorius’ brand message.  Just after the death of South Africa’s greatest hero, Mandela, another great hero, loved by the world beyond South Africa’s shores, has fallen.  The nation is mourning, or starting to acknowledge the possibility that South Africa’s second greatest son isn’t who they thought he was.  And his case, it sometimes seems, doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

Pack Mentality of the Media
 A cursory remark by Charl Johnson, the state’s third witness, and Burger’s husband, was that after the Valentine’s Day killing, the couple often associated the cries of wild jackals drifting into earshot with those of Reeva Steenkamp. What floats inexorably to the surface of the psyche is a morsel of dialogue from the film, The Silence of the Lambs. Dr.Lecter, a highly educated, vicious psychopathic criminal asks Dr. Starling: You still wake up sometimes, don't you? You wake up in the dark and hear the screaming of the lambs.
Clarice Starling: Yes.
Hannibal Lecter: And you think if you save poor Catherine, you could make them stop, don't you? You think if Catherine lives, you won't wake up in the dark ever again to that awful screaming of the lambs.
Clarice Starling: I don't know.

Of course, while the trial has been celebrated as an opportunity for South Africans to examine (possibly to fix, possibly to assess, possibly to praise) our justice system, no one really knows what good will come out this trial, particularly the media’s hungry participation in it.  Wits University’s Professor Anton Harber, director of Journalism and Media Studies, has astutely observed, “When we [the media] are at our worst is when we operate as a pack.” And the Oscar Pistorius trial has brought out this pack mentality, of editors and journalists trying to outscoop each other.  To what end?  Margie Orford’s allusion to the “paranoid imagining of suburban South Africa...[lurking] like a bogeyman...threatening, nameless and faceless...[the] dangerous black intruder” may have some foundation in reality.  But the media have a real role to play in shining a light that can dissipate the ghosts haunting our neighbourhoods.  Beyond selling stories, beyond that almost political cliché of telling a public what they want to hear, the media can do what they once did.  Instead of a preoccupation with profit, the South African media has an opportunity in this instance to perform a valuable public service.  There is always the opportunity for the media to shape culture, and create a new narrative.  South Africa’s media and advertising industry have succeeded to some extent in building an image of a ‘rainbow nation’, of a diverse crowd of ethnicities drinking beer together whilst watching rugby.  While the Oscar Trial unfolds, it is the responsibility of the media to deal with those ‘awful screams’ of the jackals.  But can they?  And if so, how?  What narrative is it that South Africans need to hear right now?

What happened to discernment?

First of all, we have to learn discernment.  To separate fiction from reality, race issues from class issues and celebrity from heroism.  June Steenkamp, Reeva’s mother, had a simple message to the media.  She had come to the trial she said, because “I want to look into Oscar’s eyes.”  This is something we all need to do.  We have seen the common man become a Mandela, and we have seen the common man idolise him. We have seen a lot of counterfeiting of our heroes lately, haven’t we: Armstrong, Tiger Woods, presidents the world over, the pope, and now this.  Can we still recognise heroes when we see them?  Or are we complicit – the media and us – in building them up, making them into brands but based on little more than flash and the fickle fiat currency that is popularity. Should Pistorius ever have been allowed to compete as an equal, with able bodied athletes at the level of the Olympics?  Are our standards in terms of doping in professional cycling not equally applicable here?

The precursor to Pistorius shooting his girlfriend in 2013 were the Oscars, the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood.  Pistorius, ironically (again) was to be the face of that campaign in South Africa (ironically organised by the same channel that has devoted around-the-clock coverage of the trial). A year later, the Oscar’s were once again a precursor to the trial.  The Oscar for best actor went to Matthew McConaughey this year, for his role in the Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey gave an eclectic speech, the longest and some would say best of the evening.  He finished saying, “[My] hero. That's who I chase. ...when I was 15 years old, I had a very important person in my life come to me and say 'who's your hero?' And I said, 'I don't know, I gotta think about that. Give me a couple of weeks.' I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says 'who's your hero?' I said, 'I thought about it. You know who it is? It's me in 10 years.'

That is the narrative South Africans, and everyone else following the cult of celebrity, need to learn. By being our own heroes we can’t participate in the cult of the celebrity.  By being our own heroes we can’t be our own worst enemies.  In this case, there was no intruder. The enemy lived in that house. The enemy was us. This was the last thought that occurred to all who heard those terrible screams. Facebook and twitter may enable these cults, but they also enable ordinary individuals to establish their own identities publicly.  The question is, are they real?  Is who we portray ourselves, authentic? Do we cry wolf behind our social media masks? Are we credible people, can we believe our neighbours and our countrymen and can they believe us?

For that to happen, more than being our own heroes, we have to be our own saviours.  To stop listening to the screams of the jackals in the dark, we have to turn instead towards each other.  For the light of our hearts is what illuminates the road to greatness, and this applies equally to people as it does to nations. But greatness only really happens if our dreams are not only dreams for ourselves, but dreams that includes our fellow man. Only you and I can walk it, but it is how we walk it together that makes all the difference, and decides that fateful question: where will this road take us to in the end?  The narrative that needs to emerge out of this trial is really Reeva Steenkamp’s narrative. A law graduate, a paralegal, Steenkamp was acutely aware of violence against women.  This is a moment for South Africans and the world to see how the law works. To learn the law, to live lawfully even when no one is watching, and to walk the road with class and with integrity. That’s the real lesson, and one Miss Steenkamp would have liked. 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

June Steenkamp: I am there representing Reeva...That was my child there that was screaming, that was injured and dying. [VIDEO]

“She's locked herself in the toilet and she's been shot and she's in pain and... I wish I could have been there to protect her,” she said.
“That's my child that I gave birth to and it's hard for me that she's dead, that she's gone. That was the time I broke down. The screaming, you know. That was my child there that was screaming, that was injured and dying.”
She said she was at the High Court in Pretoria on Monday to represent Reeva and wanted the man who shot her dead, Oscar Pistorius, to acknowledge her presence.
“I wanted to see him and him to see me. I just felt that I had to do that.
But he didn't look at me or anything. He just, he just walked straight and looked ahead.”

PERSONAL VIEW: I do think for all the declarations and affidavits, the messages of sorrow on Pistorius' website, there is something cold and evasive that Pistorius does not even acknowledge the mother of the young woman and law graduate whom he claims he accidentally killed.

Watch June Steenkamp here.

Robert de Niro's classic quote at the Oscar's on 'The Mind of a Writer'.

 “The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”- Robert de Niro

Oscar and Reeva - A Loving Couple?

I did a short analysis for DestinyMan (link below). I really wanted to highlight this series of images from the SKYNEWS video. The images at left are shown in series (note the :46, :48 and :50 in yellow which refers to the time in seconds...)  It was the original video which SKY took as evidence of a couple comfortable with each other and in love that prompted me to look closely at the kiss itself.  I examined this series of images in particular, and invite those interested to make up their own minds by watching the clip here.

There is a ‘cascade of vectors’ which can lie behind a relationship — specific circumstances can spark something in the psyche, causing an outburst, sometimes with bloody and devastating consequences.
What were those vectors in Oscar’s case?

Read my in-depth analysis here.

Read: Oscar told to 'back off from Reeva Steenkamp' here.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

June Steenkamp talks about her feelings towards the man who shot her law-graduate daughter [VIDEO}

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This is pertinent: "I’ve lost everything that’s important to me..." "He just walked into the courtroom and he looked straight ahead, and then he sat down and never looked my way at all," she said. “I actually never met him and Reeva didn’t say that much about the relationship,” she said. “It was a very short, short relationship. I think it was about three months.” "All we are looking for is closure and to know that our daughter did not suffer..." For more background and insight, go here.

Is Beeld's coverage of the Oscar Case South Africa's Best?

From Insights:

Byleveld sê ook indien hy die ondersoekbeampte was, sou hy fokus op ’n moontlike motief.
“Motief, motief, motief. Is daar ’n motief in die saak?”
Volgens hom “blyk” dit asof die staat ’n sterk saak het.

To graphics
and more graphics:
From Aerial photos:
To Video Animation...

From the second video its immediately obvious that on Oscar's version the balcony door, originally opened, is closed, and the curtains and blinds drawn (making it dark inside the house). Oscar later returns and opens the door (as the door originally was). The question that arises - when he opened the door, did he also open the blinds and curtains? Also, the front door was open when security arrived. Same thing. Oscar went downstairs after shooting Reeva, in his version, to open the door. But why not open the door when you get to the door? Why go downstairs first?

And then analysis:

'n Raaiselagtige woordewisseling wat op 21 Februarie vanjaar by Oscar Pistorius se huis in die Silwer Woods-landgoed in Pretoria gehoor is, is Dinsdag in sy moordverhoor opgeklaar.
Die tweede getuie in die saak, Estelle van der Merwe, wat ook naby aan Pistorius bly, het getuig sy het 'n argument minder as twee weke gelede by die Pistorius-huis gehoor.
“Dit was donker en ek is nie seker nie, maar ek dink daar was 'n wit viertrek-voertuig wat voor Pistorius se huis gestaan het.”
Barry Roux, vir Pistorius, het later gesê die insident waarvan die getuie gepraat het, was lede van die verdedigingspan wat sekere aspekte getoets het rondom " 'n man en 'n vrou wat op mekaar skree". - City Press
They also seem to be the only media who know:

- June Steenkamp has gone home (and only ever intended to attend the first day)
- Oscar's brother Carl was seen hugging June supportively in a low key moment sometime during the trial

- Kim Martin, another relative, one who had met Oscar and Reeva previously at Bloubergstrand, was present, and made eye contact with Oscar during his trial appearance.

Oscar Trial: If the witnesses are reliable, what were Oscar and Reeva arguing and screaming about? [REFERENCES: OSCAR'S VERSION AT BAIL APPLICATION + NEW DODGY UPDATED VERSION]

Note: This analysis is available for syndication.

Analysis by Nick van der Leek
Well the apparently tough defense lawyer Barry Roux seems to have met his match in the hard-as-nails lay witness that has stood her guns, and is rapidly emerging not only as a star witness, but an intelligent, sensitive woman and conscientious wife. Michelle Burger now even has a Nandos hamburger named after her:

One of the strange things with a defense doing a cross examination is that so much time is painstakingly spent examining the minutia that it becomes easier to start forgetting the obvious.  In this case, whatever witnesses say or believe, however faulty or flawless the police procedure, irrespective of evidence led by the prosecution or defense, THERE WAS ULTIMATELY NO INTRUDER.

Something else that ought to be highlighted are Burger's answers.  The defense, during cross examination, does actually not want explanations or hypothesis from a witness, they want "yes", "no", or "I don't know".  In this way they can build their narrative. It is interesting that Roux has often allowed Burger to prevaricate at times.  This certainly supports the state's case, and it is likely Nel has encouraged the witness to give reasons and also to refer to previous statements rather than simply answering in the affirmative or otherwise.

But the judge did eventually seize on it:

After Roux had asked her a question several times Tuesday, Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa intervened: “When counsel asks a question, you answer that question … The quicker way to get out of that (witness) box is to answer exactly what counsel is asking.”

Read more:

Now onto another point.
If there are two witnesses who see the same thing, as in the case of Burger and her husband Charl Johnson, the defense can cynically complain that either the evidence is too similar, or that it is too different.  Roux is using both tactics, which beggars belief.  Which is it, too similar or too different?  On this issue one expects the prosecution to eventually highlight what testimony of the couple is consistent or why inconsistencies are entirely reasonable (or not, if that is the case).

Since we now know there was no intruder, and it's been strongly suggested by at least three witnesses that a woman was screaming, that there were sounds of loud talking and arguing, one has to wonder, if a woman was screaming, why was she screaming?  Why hasn't Nel asked whether lights were on or off?  Oscar's affidavit states that it was pitch dark, but if the couple were arguing, it's credible that the lights of their home would have been on. Also, the defense alleges that the 'incident' took place with only Oscar shouting, and his insinuation that bat thuds were gunshots also insinuates the whole 'incident' started and ended very quickly, and it all happened in the confusing dark of night.  If the lights were on, it would give the state a better contextual basis for their case.  Also, if the lights were on, how could you not see someone in bed, or mistake sounds or intruders or feel afraid?

Burger herself, when asked to explain the inconsistency of a man killing his girlfriend and shouting help described Pistorius' behaviour as a 'mockery'. It may seem like a strange word, even the wrong word, but if one considers the possibility of intent, that the couple were arguing, that Oscar did intentionally kill her, then his shouting help and carrying her downstairs ostensibly to take her to hospital when he was really trying to make sure he was killing her, demonstrate an elaborate theatre in this case. [ In is own words, there is little real accounting for exactly how Oscar helped Reeva after shooting her: trying to render assistance yes, but no mention of exactly what assistence - CPR, bandages, any specific attempt to stop the bleeding, because that ought to have been his absolute first thought - if it was an accident - besides calling the ambulance.  Also, did he call security first or the ambulance first?:
 I phoned Johan Stander ("Stander") who was involved in the administration of the estate and asked him to phone the ambulance. I phoned Netcare and asked for help.
We now know Pistorius says he called the complex owner first, and asks him to call the ambulance. Is there proof that he called Netcare?  Phone records will show who was called and when. But this is very irregular by any standard: Someone is bleeding to death...and you call the owner of the complex first?  That's the first thing you do?].

Assuming Burger's version is accurate, and Reeva felt threatened, what was actually happening?  There's the possibility that Oscar had armed himself and was walking around on his stumps early on...and that Reeva then felt too threatened to leave the house, or was unable to leave perhaps because her keys had been confiscated.  But she did manage, it seems, to 'escape' to the bathroom.  Whilst she screamed louder and louder  (probably realising what was coming) hoping someone would hear her, it must have occurred to Oscar the absurdity of it.  One woman's screams, with him standing on the other side of the locked door.  So he shouted loudly "help, help, help" presumably to an imagined audience of residents possibly overhearing the altercation.

If this is true it supports the idea of premeditation.  Also, it suggests something set off Pistorius which made him absolutely determined to kill Reeva; to shoot Reeva until she was dead.  And when he had shot her and found her still alive? Did she have her phone with her in the toilet?  Did he have to break down the door to also make sure she did not send a message whilst injured (and still alive?)

Despite Roux's allegation, that Reeva would have died instantly from her head wound, this is contradicted both by expert witnesses and by Oscar's own version:

_Defence advocate Barry Roux told the court that the impact of the shots - as proven by ballistic experts - meant Steenkamp could not have screamed after the gun was fired.
The court then heard a portion of a statement by the expert stating the extent of the damage Steenkamp had sustained from the bullets. Her hand trying to cover her head had been penetrated, the bullet travelling into her head resulting in death.
When this was read out, Pistorius in the dock bent down, holding his head in his hands for more than two minutes. He eventually emerged red-faced and teary-eyed, taking out a tissue and wiping his nose before quickly maintaining his composure.
Read more here.

Interestingly, SA media didn't seem to follow Roux's failed attempt to trap the witness. There is some talk, even in the above article of Nel complaining that Roux was 'badgering' Michelle Burger.  When Nel objected (calling the judge 'madam') she told the Pistorius' lawyer: "Mr Roux, I really think you have exhausted this."

For Oscar's defense, Roux insisted that Reeva had died instantly after the first shot:

He told the court: “We will have experts state that there was serious brain damage after the shot to the head, that it would not have been possible for her to scream at all.
“With the head shot, she would have dropped down immediately.”
There is word play in the above, as it implies without actually saying that Reeva died instantly.  It's irrelevant because Oscar's own version indicates that he found Reeva alive after breaking open the toilet door (see below).  But this fakery from Roux solicited an interesting disclosure from Nel.
Crucially, the state prosecutor pointed out the exact succession of bullet wounds Reeva suffered.
Remember, she was standing by the door.  Oscar may have assumed she was sitting, or assumed she was using the toilet.
In any event, she was shot by the first two bullets in her right side (in other words, towards the left, towards the toilet, following an assumption that she was sitting).  Then on the third bullet he either changed his trajectory, Reeva began to fall, or the kick of the gun made him miss, but the third bullet hit the wall and the fourth and last penetrated two fingertips and head. The mere movement of Reeva's hand to protect her head indicates enough time to take a defensive posture.  This time gap is also critical when deciding whether the killing was both premeditated and intentional.

What is Oscar doing during the trial?  According to the Daily Mirror:

Pistorius again took lengthy notes during the witnesses's  testimony with a black Mont Blanc pen and using an orange highlighter and sticky notes to mark certain passages. 
During adjournments, he huddled with his legal team.  At one point, he removed a child’s small lunchbox from his briefcase to retrieve a can of fizzy juice and a wrapped snack.

Read more:

But during *this* part of the testimony Oscar was less composed:

As Roux claimed a gunshot wound to the head would have made it impossible for Steenkamp to scream, Pistorius bowed his head and folded his hands behind his neck.
“The person with that brain damage will have no cognitive response,’’ continued Roux. “It cannot be. She could not have screamed.’’
Prosecution lawyer Gerrie Nel interjected to say it was the last of four shots that struck Steenkamp’s head, the first two hitting her right side, the wall and her shoulder.*
“I heard her voice just after the last shot,’’ Ms Burger said. “It faded away.’’
From  More here.
*Does that make sense?  Four shots...first two hitting her right side and the wall (respectively?) the third (?) hitting her shoulder and the fourth her head.  One must also conjecture how Oscar was able to shoot the fourth and last shot into her head.  Was it possible to see or hear where she was?  Was it a fluke?  The changing trajectory may also speak of intention, in that as she moved, he anticipated where to shoot.

Another point: A firearm owner is supposed to fire a warning shot, and is never permitted to shoot at someone they can't see, for example behind a door or through a wall.  This is part of the process of applying for and receiving a firearm license.

Then: How did the shell end up in the toilet bowl?  Was it sitting in Oscar's clothes?

Let's remind ourselves again of Oscar's version last year:

During the early morning hours of 14 February 2013, I woke up, went onto the balcony to bring the fan in and closed the sliding doors, the blinds and the curtains. I heard a noise in the bathroom and realised that someone was in the bathroom.
I felt a sense of terror rushing over me. There are no burglar bars across the bathroom window and I knew that contractors who worked at my house had left the ladders outside. Although I did not have my prosthetic legs on I have mobility on my stumps.
Now contrast that version with this, updated version:
I had mistakenly believed that an intruder or intruders had entered my home and posed an imminent threat to Reeva and me.
4. In my application for bail, I concisely dealt with the events of February 14, 2013. I am advised that I will have an opportunity to deal with a comprehensive version of the events when I testify. For purposes of my plea explanation, I emphasise the following:
4.1 During the early hours of the morning, I brought two fans in from the balcony. I had shortly before spoken to Reeva, who was in bed beside me.
4.2 Unbeknown to me Reeva must have gone to the toilet in the bathroom at the time when I brought in the fans, closed the sliding doors, the blinds and the curtains.
4.3 I heard the bathroom window sliding open. I believed that an intruder or intruders had entered the bathroom through the bathroom window, which was not fitted with burglar bars.
4.4 I approached the bathroom, armed with my firearm, so as to defend Reeva and I. At that time I believed Reeva was still in the bed.
4.5 The discharging of my firearm was precipitated by a noise in the toilet, which I, in my fearful state, knowing that I was on my stumps, unable to run away or properly defend my self physically, believed to be the intruder/s coming out of the toilet to attack Reeva and me.
Click here for the full plea.
I believed that someone had entered my house. I was too scared to switch a light on.
I grabbed my 9mm pistol from underneath my bed. On my way to the bathroom I screamed words to the effect for him/them to get out of my house and for Reeva to phone the police. It was pitch dark in the bedroom and I thought Reeva was in bed.
I noticed that the bathroom window was open. I realised that the intruder/s was/were in the toilet because the toilet door was closed and I did not see anyone in the bathroom. I heard movement inside the toilet. The toilet is inside the bathroom and has a separate door.
It filled me with horror and fear of an intruder or intruders being inside the toilet. I thought he or they must have entered through the unprotected window. As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself. I believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger. I felt trapped as my bedroom door was locked and I have limited mobility on my stumps.
I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police. She did not respond and I moved backwards out of the bathroom, keeping my eyes on the bathroom entrance. Everything was pitch dark in the bedroom and I was still too scared to switch on a light. Reeva was not responding.
When I reached the bed, I realised that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet. I returned to the bathroom calling her name. I tried to open the toilet door but it was locked. I rushed back into the bedroom and opened the sliding door exiting onto the balcony and screamed for help.
I returned to the bathroom [bashed down the door?]and picked Reeva up as I had been told not to wait for the paramedics, but to take her to hospital. I carried her downstairs [why is this section not written in chronological order?  When did you put on your prosthetics, why do you only mention it in the next paragraph?] in order to take her to the hospital. On my way down Stander arrived. A doctor who lives in the complex also arrived. Downstairs, I tried to render the assistance to Reeva that I could, but she died in my arms. [This means she was alive after the shooting, after the door was opened, and possibly when others arrived.]
I battled to get her out of the toilet and pulled her into the bathroom. I phoned Johan Stander ("Stander") who was involved in the administration of the estate and asked him to phone the ambulance. I phoned Netcare and asked for help. [Did the complex security call you? What did you say to them?]I went downstairs to open the front door. [The front door was open...was Reeva trying to leave?  Where were Reeva's car keys?] I put on my prosthetic legs, ran back to the bathroom and tried to kick the toilet door open. I think I must then have turned on the lights. I went back into the bedroom and grabbed my cricket bat to bash open the toilet door. A panel or panels broke off and I found the key on the floor and unlocked and opened the door. Reeva was slumped over but alive. [Note: by his own version she was still alive after all four bullets were fired.]

I am absolutely mortified by the events and the devastating loss of my beloved Reeva. With the benefit of hindsight I believe that Reeva went to the toilet when I went out on the balcony to bring the fan in.

Then, back to the updated plea:
The State is furthermore in possession of statements by a number of witnesses, including witnesses resident either in the estate where I reside, or in an adjacent estate. None of these witnesses claim to have heard any argument between Reeva and I, nor any woman’s voice talking, prior to the shooting, [Pistorius seems awfully confident that there are no witnesses....?] notwithstanding the fact that two of the witnesses (who live in closer proximity to my house than Van der Merwe) were awake at the time when Van der Merwe alleged that she heard a woman’s voice. Watch Video Highlights from Day 2: