Letters to SOOTHE Os­car

Pis­to­rius is given re­newed mes­sages of sup­port, while Reeva’s fam­ily re­mem­bers her birth­day

CityPress - - News - SUZANNE VEN­TER, ELAINE SWANEPOEL, BIÉNNE HUIS­MAN and ALET VAN ZYL news@city­press.co.za

Os­car Pis­to­rius’ fam­ily is col­lect­ing letters of sup­port from his friends to en­cour­age him in prison.

Af­ter his cor­rec­tional su­per­vi­sion re­lease was dra­mat­i­cally halted by Jus­tice Min­is­ter Michael Ma­sutha two days be­fore his in­tended re­lease this past Fri­day, one of his friends, para­plegic weightlifter Dewald Reyn­ders, said the fam­ily had asked peo­ple for a num­ber of mes­sages of en­cour­age­ment for him.

Reyn­ders said that although he had not been to see Os­car in jail, Pis­to­rius’ fam­ily spokesper­son, An­neliese Burgess, had asked him and a num­ber of other friends to send mes­sages to him.

“The Os­car ev­ery­one talks about is not the Os­car I know,” said Reyn­ders. “He is a good per­son. I’ve seen what he’s done for peo­ple. And he was al­ways so de­ter­mined and dis­ci­plined.”

This week, the fam­ily of Pis­to­rius’ slain girl­friend, Reeva Steenkamp, cel­e­brated her birth­day with can­dles and her favourite treat, banana bread. Steenkamp would have turned 32 on Wed­nes­day. In Cape Town, Steenkamp’s cousin Kim Martin lit can­dles with her hus­band, Dion. They brought out bal­loons and stream­ers to re­mem­ber her birth­day.

Kim shared a mes­sage to Reeva online, say­ing: “Happy birth­day cuzzie, not a day goes by that we don’t think about you. Your beauty and smile, your con­fi­dence, your love for fair­ness and fam­ily. You made each day brighter.

“I just know that you are ar­rang­ing an awe­some tea party in heaven.”

Fam­ily mem­bers in­sist that their fu­ture fo­cus will be on keep­ing Reeva’s mem­ory alive, and not think­ing or speak­ing about Pis­to­rius.

How­ever, Dion told City Press that they wel­comed the jus­tice min­istry’s sud­den de­ci­sion to halt Pis­to­rius’ re­lease. “Cer­tainly, we are happy,” he said. “Ten months seems to­tally in­ap­pro­pri­ate. And to be re­leased in women’s month?”

Birth­day wishes for Reeva poured in on Face­book: “I can’t be­lieve it’s been two and a half years al­ready,” wrote another fam­ily mem­ber. “You live on in our hearts and you are with us at ev­ery fam­ily func­tion. Al­ways and for­ever. See you in Heaven!”

Reeva’s death con­tin­ues to haunt her fam­ily, who still in­sist there is more to what hap­pened that Valen­tine’s Day in 2013.

“Why would her jeans be crum­pled un­der the bed?” asked Dion. “Reeva was a neat freak. Her clothes were al­ways neatly folded be­fore she went to sleep.” Mean­while, the house in which their daugh­ter was killed has been stand­ing empty for months be­cause no one wants to live in it.

Louwtjie Louwrens, who bought the house from Pis­to­rius, says he can’t un­der­stand why prospec­tive ten­ants might be scared off by the house’s history.

Louwrens says Christo Menelaou – Os­car’s friend who orig­i­nally rented the house – fixed it up nicely. It was badly ne­glected when Louwrens bought it, be­cause it had been empty for 18 months af­ter Pis­to­rius moved in with his un­cle be­fore and dur­ing his mur­der trial.

The wa­ter dam­age was re­paired, along with the swimming pool and Jacuzzi, and the house was painted both in­side and out. A new door was in­stalled in the space where the one through which Pis­to­rius fired the fa­tal shots used to hang.

Louwrens says: “It’s not just a house any more; it’s a home. We weren’t scared to spend – we bought only the best. “But we have a prob­lem now,” he ad­mit­ted. Af­ter Menelaou moved out of the house four months ago, Louwrens strug­gled to find a new ten­ant. Prospec­tive ones are un­der­stood to come for view­ings, but later with­draw their in­ter­est.

“The agent may not con­ceal the truth about the place. If po­ten­tial ten­ants ask ques­tions about the house’s past, they de­serve truth­ful an­swers. But then they are put off.”

He has been left scratch­ing his head. When he bought the house, its past did not trou­ble him. “It wasn’t about what hap­pened there; I saw it as a safe place for my fam­ily. To me, that was very im­por­tant. We trust we will soon find a ten­ant who will see it in the same way.”

Reeva Steenkamp

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