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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

Oscar Pistorius: Opera on full blast as ‘too toxic’ Blade Runner sweeps church floors (PICS)

While Oscar Pistorius is doing odd jobs at a church, the former star athlete's murder trial has been turned into a 'bite-sized' opera.

The Trial by Media opera, which is currently gripping audiences at the Artscape Arena Theatre, focuses on the murder trial of disgraced Paralympian Oscar Pistorius who was released on parole from Pretoria’s Atteridgeville Correctional Centre in January this year.

The bite-sized opera, which forms part of Cape Town Opera’s season of Shorts – A Festival of Operas, had its world premiere last week and will run until 21 April.

Oscar Pistorius: ‘Too toxic to work with’

This while media reports of Pistorius now officially sweeping church floors as part of his parole  “penance”, are doing the rounds.

In an exclusive, New York Post revealed that the former sporting icon reached out to at least two members of the International Paralympic Committee after his release, asking if they could work together in any capacity.

He was reportedly rejected, with one member telling The Post that the 37-year-old double amputee is “too toxic to work with now”, adding “There’s nothing for him here”.

Valentine’s Day shooting and murder conviction

Pistorius was convicted for shooting 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp four times with his licensed 9mm Parabellum pistol through a locked toilet door in his Pretoria home at Silver Woods Country Estate on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

Throughout the gruelling six-month murder trial, Pistorius maintained that he had mistaken his model and law graduate girlfriend for an intruder.


oscar pistorius parole church
From left: Oscar Pistorius on the morning of Valentine’s Day 2013 at his home after Reeva Steenkamp was fatally shot. A file photo of the couple at the Feather Awards at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg; and the bloody crime scene. Photos: AFP and South African Police Services (Saps)

The athlete served nearly nine years of his sentence of 13 years and five months before he was released into the care of his uncle Arnold Pistorius under strict parole conditions.

Pistorius, nicknamed “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fibre running blades, has reportedly been given a choice on how he wanted to carry out the community service which forms part of his parole deal.

The Citizen previously reported that Pistorius indicated to his parole officers that he would like to help out at the Dutch Reformed Church Waterkloof, which is situated a stone’s throw away from the luxury estate of his uncle in the posh Pretoria suburb.

ALSO READ: Oscar Pistorius walks: Blade Runner’s R47m armed fortress, some ‘Snatch’ and lots of lasagne

Pistorius ‘a shadow of what he once was’

According to The Post, the former six-time paralympic gold medallist now does light maintenance and janitorial work at the church, as well as “quietly attends services”.

oscar pistorius parole community service church
Oscar Pistorius in court, the former athlete with Reeva Steenkamp and the Dutch Reformed Church Waterkloof. Photos: Picture: Kim Ludbrook/ EPA/ Pool

A member of the NG Kerk Waterkloof told the publication that Pistorius is “a shadow of what he once was”.

“He’s not friendly, not outgoing,” the church member said. “I don’t know if I’ve even seen him crack a smile. He’s just a shadow of what he once was.”

Aida Govender, who spotted him at the church in March while visiting with relatives, said she did not recognise the former champion athlete at first.

“You would never know he was an athlete; he’s just not the same.”

‘Trial by Media’

London-based South African composer Conrad Asman’s score for Trial by Media was crafted over four years and finally completed just days after Pistorius’s parole request was approved in November 2023.

The opera is a musical tour de force of the complexities of the Pistorius murder trial, the public and media’s reaction to it, as well as the memory of Steenkamp.

Oscar Pistorius Trial by Media
Soprano Brittany Smith as Reeva Steenkamp, and Van Wyk Venter in the role of Oscar Pistorius in the opera ‘Trial by Media’. Photo: Supplied/ Kim Stevens

Trial by Media stars Cape Town Opera soloist and award-winning soprano Brittany Smith as Steenkamp, with Van Wyk Venter in his first major role as Pistorius.

The supporting cast includes Conroy Scott as the defence lawyer, Tylor Lamani as the prosecutor, Lusibalwethu Sesanti as the judge, and members of the Cape Town Opera chorus.

The opera is co-directed by Fred Abrahamse and Marcel Meyer, who is also the costume designer. The set design of all three short operas is by Allegra Bernacchioni.

  • Apart from Trial by Media, Shorts: A Festival of Pocket Operas also features Francis Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine (The Human Voice) and Mozart’s comedy The Impresario (Der Schauspieldirektor). The festival runs until 21 April and tickets are available from Webtickets.