News

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
9 May 2014
7:00 am

Social worker fights for Oscar

Ilse de Lange

Oscar Pistorius had been heartbroken about Reeva Steenkamp's death – which he described as an accident, but never said he was sorry for shooting her, a social worker yesterday told the North Gauteng High Court.

FILE PICTURE: South African Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during the testimony of a defence witness at his murder trial at the high court in Pretoria on May 6, 2014. Picture: AFP.

Yvette van Schalkwyk, a government social worker and probation officer, volunteered to give evidence for the defence because she was upset by media reports suggesting Pistorius had acting training and started crying when it was needed.

Van Schalkwyk was appointed to support Pistorius emotionally and monitor his behaviour after his arrest for the alleged murder of his girlfriend on February 14 last year.

She submitted weekly reports about his emotional state in terms of a court order until his bail conditions changed.

She met him for the first time at court the day after his arrest, before his bail proceedings.

“What I saw from the first second I saw him was a man that was heartbroken about the loss.

“He was very sorry about the loss, especially for her parents and the suffering they are going through. That was the theme for the whole period I saw him.

“…When I first saw him after his arrest he vomited. One time he just started crying and crying and we had to calm him down,” she said.

Her reports highlighted that Pistorius had consistently tested negative for any prohibited substances and that he regularly had sessions with a psychologist to deal with his emotional state.

Judge Thokozile Masipa overruled prosecutor Gerrie Nel’s objection to Van Schalkwyk’s evidence as irrelevant.

Van Schalkwyk did not agree with a statement by Nel that Pistorius was crying because he felt sorry for himself.

To repeated questions by Nel about whether Pistorius had said he was sorry about what he did, Van Schalkwyk conceded she never heard him use those words.

“He said ‘I’m so sorry I lost Reeva’, but he never said ‘I’m sorry I killed her?'” Nel asked. “No, he did not,” she replied.

Van Schalkwyk denied sympathy for Pistorius, but said as a social worker she had empathy.