Os­car Pis­to­rius’s dad breaks his si­lence

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

JO­HAN­NES­BURG — Os­car Pis­to­rius’s fa­ther, Henke, be­lieves his son should never have been con­victed of mur­der and is “fu­ri­ous” that his ad­vice on the case was re­peat­edly ig­nored by the Pis­to­rius fam­ily and their le­gal team.

Henke also lashed out at Ad­vo­cate Ger­rie Nel, say­ing the State pros­e­cu­tor’s “mis­lead­ing lies” were an “em­bar­rass­ment to the coun­try’s le­gal sys­tem”.

Scarcely 24 hours af­ter the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity filed its ap­peal against Os­car’s six-year sen­tence for the mur­der of his girl­friend, Reeva Steenkamp, Henke has fi­nally bro­ken his si­lence in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with City Press’ sis­ter news­pa­per, Rap­port. “I’m now speak­ing out for Os­car. I’m stand­ing up for my child. I re­mained silent for too long. I stood back. Now that’s over,” said Henke, him­self an at­tor­ney.

Dur­ing the court case, Henke was sel­dom seen in the High Court in Pre­to­ria. He was never part of the solid Pis­to­rius fam­ily, stand­ing squarely be­hind Os­car, some­thing which has raised much spec­u­la­tion. “I don’t have to de­fend my­self, that I’m an ab­sent fa­ther. Let them say so. It doesn’t mat­ter.”

What peo­ple didn’t know was that Henke was often just two blocks away, watch­ing pro­ceed­ings from the ad­vo­cates’ cham­bers. “I’m part of the fam­ily; we go out and eat to­gether. But [Os­car’s un­cle] Arnold and I are no longer close, the way we were when we were school­boys caus­ing trou­ble and get­ting hid­ings to­gether. Pri­or­i­ties be­gan to dif­fer, that’s all I can say.”

In court, there was tes­ti­mony about Henke and Os­car’s strained re­la­tion­ship. At Os­car’s bail hear­ing, Henke reached out to him but Os­car, in the full glare of dozens of cam­eras, ig­nored his sur­prised fa­ther.

“I don’t know if he saw me. If . . . there were a lot of emo­tions at that stage. If he was feel­ing over­whelmed, maybe a hug would have made him cry. Maybe he was just try­ing to pre­vent that.”

He saw his son in jail a few times, but the long, open-hearted dis­cus­sion be­tween fa­ther and son he had so hoped for never hap­pened. “We hug each other, but not a lot is said. Be­cause I’m the fa­ther, and a mis­take was made, a tragic mis­take. There isn’t re­ally any­thing more to say.”

Now his frus­tra­tion with Os­car’s ad­vo­cate, Barry Roux, has fi­nally boiled over when he read Nel’s ap­peal ar­gu­ments in the me­dia. Ac­cord­ing to Nel, sen­tenc­ing must be fo­cussed on the fact that a per­son who was be­hind a toi­let door and who pre­sented no im­me­di­ate dan­ger to the ac­cused was shot.

“Rub­bish! For God’s sake, for­get this guess­ing game of who was stand­ing be­hind the toi­let door, where and how. If Reeva was try­ing to get away — the State al­leged she was run­ning away from a ‘gun-wield­ing Os­car’ — she would have hid­den in the op­po­site cor­ner, or next to the wall along­side the door. She wouldn’t have been sit­ting on the toi­let.”

Henke claims that he per­formed cal­cu­la­tions on the four bul­let holes in the toi­let door — mea­sur­ing a square around the bul­let holes and com­par­ing it to how much space a per­son of Reeva’s height would have to stand — and reached his own shock­ing con­clu­sion.

“If you look at the tra­jec­tory of the bul­lets, it’s clear: If she was stand­ing in the op­po­site cor­ner, or next to the wall along­side the door, the chances of her be­ing hit were less than 1 per­cent.

“That’s ir­re­spec­tive of the fact that the bul­lets went through the door at a height of lower than 1m and all of them had a down­ward tra­jec­tory, which would hardly have been able to fa­tally in­jure a stand­ing per­son. Now, 1 per­cent is miles from the re­al­ity Nel is try­ing to cre­ate. God only knows how some­thing so ob­vi­ous was over­looked. To me, it’s to­tally in­ex­pli­ca­ble.”

Henke re­vealed his find­ings to Roux; Os­car’s at­tor­ney, Brian Web­ber; and his brother Arnold, but it was re­peat­edly ig­nored.

“The ad­vice I gave them was sim­ply wiped away. There was no re­ac­tion to the re­quest I made as a fa­ther.” Henke even went to Arnold’s of­fice to try to speak to him. “I couldn’t, he was in a long meet­ing.” Henke then put his con­clu­sions in a let­ter and fol­lowed them up with a phone call.

“It’s shock­ing, ac­tu­ally. The car­di­nal ques­tions were not asked! I’m . . . bedonnerd [en­raged] about it, to put it lightly. Fu­ri­ous with ev­ery­one who was in­volved be­cause I said it over and over.”

Henke said he even told Roux a few days be­fore the ver­dict that he hoped this over­sight didn’t be­come Os­car’s Achilles heel.

“And then that was pre­cisely what hap­pened. In her judg­ment, Judge Thokozile Masipa said three times: the toi­let was so small, Os­car knew that if he was shoot­ing through the door he would prob­a­bly hit a per­son.” — New24

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