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Steencamp’s mother bitter as Pistorius huddles with family

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South African Paralympic icon and murder suspect Oscar Pistorius appears at court in Pretoria on February 22, 2013. Pistorius on Saturday said he was thankful for prayers offered to his family and that of his slain girlfriend, a day after he was freed on bail. - Copyright : AFP Alexander Joe

PRETORIA (AFP)

South Africa’s Olympic “Blade Runner” and murder suspect Oscar Pistorius spent his first day out on bail with his family Saturday as the mother of Reeva Steenkamp, the model girlfriend he is accused of murdering, cut a bitter figure.

“I just want to finish mourning my daughter. I will have to get used to life without her,” June Steenkamp told the Afrikaans-language daily Beeld, adding that she had “cried out all my tears”.

Pistorius’s family sent flowers and a card to the Steenkamp family, but “what does that mean?” she asked, before adding: “Nothing.”

Pistorius was freed on a record one million rand ($112,770) bail on Friday after over a week in custody and an emotionally charged four-day bail hearing.

His family expressed “immense” relief at his release.. “We are extremely thankful that Oscar is now home,” his uncle Arnold Pistorius said in a statement.

The 26-year-old sprinter is accused of the premeditated murder of 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp, a model with a law degree.

On Saturday the Pistorius family distanced itself from a tweet purportedly thanking all the people that prayed for the two families.

“It is most unfortunate that during this sensitive time, someone would choose to hack into Oscar Pistorius’s older brother Carl Pistorius’s Twitter handle,” said family spokeswoman Janine Hills.

The brother had not tweeted “out of respect” for the Steenkamp family, she said.

“They are very sensitive towards Reeva and her family and the tragic accident, ” another spokeswoman told AFP.

Pistorius admitted to repeatedly shooting through a locked bathroom door at his lover, mistaking her for a burglar.

But Steenkamp’s father Barry, in an interview with the Beeld, appeared unconvinced.

“It doesn’t matter how rich he is and how good his legal team is. He needs to live with himself if he lets his legal team lie for him,” he said.

Pistorius has assembled some of the best legal brains in South Africa to defend him.

“He’ll have to live with his conscience. But if he’s telling the truth, I may forgive him one day,” Steenkamp’s father said.

But “if it didn’t happen as he described it, he should suffer. And he will suffer … only he knows.”

The Paralympic gold medalist and Olympian will return to court on June 4 when a date will be set for trial.

When contacted by AFP, his father Henke Pistorius declined to say how his son had slept at his uncle’s house in Pretoria.

In addition to the bail cash, which experts say is among the highest ever set in South Africa, Pistorius had to surrender his passport and his firearms. The magistrate quadrupled the bail amount initially proposed by the state.

He will have to report to Pretoria’s Brooklyn police on Mondays and Fridays. He was also ordered not to take alcohol or drugs.

His arrest on February 14 shocked the world and gripped South Africa, where he became a national hero after becoming the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics last year.

If found guilty he faces a possible life sentence.

Just hours before the magistrate’s decision to release Pistorius on bail, arguing he was not a flight a risk and did not pose a danger to the public, defence lawyer Barry Roux appeared to concede that the star sprinter could be convicted on a lesser charge of culpable homicide.

That charge, which entails negligence rather than murderous intent, can carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

The prosecution meanwhile said it was confident it had evidence to convict Pistorius.

Winning a bail application “doesn’t mean an acquittal”, said spokesman for the prosecution Medupe Simasiku. “We still believe we have evidence to convict Oscar Pistorius.”

The marathon trial could run for years in a country where courts are congested with murder cases.

“We are acutely aware of the fact that this is only the beginning of a long road to prove that, as we know, Oscar never intended to harm Reeva, let alone cause her death,” Pistorius’s uncle said.

Signature : by Susan Njanji-Matetakufa

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