South African police have found a bloody cricket bat in the home of Oscar Pistorius, the Paralympian champion charged with the Valentine’s Day killing of his 29-year-old girlfriend.
South African model Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead in the star athlete’s home on Thursday, in a crime that has shocked South Africa and the world. Pistorius had reached iconic status after becoming the first double amputee to run in the Olympics, winning sponsorships from major companies like Nike and Oakley.
But while some suggested that Pistorius, 26, could have mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder, leading him to fire his weapon, police have now dismissed that theory, according to local media reports. Police sources close to the investigation have revealed that, in addition to the gunshot wounds, Steenkamp’s skull had been “crushed.” She was reportedly wearing a nightgown at the time.
"There was lots of blood on the bat," a source told the Jagran Post. "The suspicion is that the first shot, in the bedroom, hit her in the hip. She then ran and hid herself in the toilet. ... He fired three more shots."
Pistorius, who is in jail, is scheduled to seek bail at a court hearing on Tuesday – the same day as Steenkamp's funeral. He faces a life sentence if convicted of premeditated murder.
Steenkamp, who was also a law school graduate, made a posthumous appearance on Caribbean reality TV show “Tropika Island of Treasure” that aired in South Africa over the weekend. While the episode was billed as tribute to “an intelligent, beautiful and amazing woman,” women’s rights activists have criticized a scene that depicts Steenkamp discussing her “exit” from the show.
"I think that the way you go out, not just your journey in life but the way that you go out and you make your exit is so important," she said in the pre-recorded interview.
At the end of the tribute, apparently recorded when she was voted off the show, she blows kisses to the camera and says: "I'm going to miss you all so much. I love you very, very much."
The reference to Steenkamp’s tragic “exit” is particularly insensitive in a country where a woman is estimated to be killed by her partner every eight hours, according to Rachel Jewkes, a gender and health researcher at the South African Medical Research Center.
“There was a big question about whether it should have been shown at all, or whether they were trying to get audience ratings off the fact she had died," Jewkes told Reuters. "These sort of quotes don't make you feel any better about the suggestion they are exploiting her death."
Earlier this month, a 17-year-old South African woman, Anene Booysen, was gang-raped and left for dead, another incident that put a spotlight on the nation’s trend of violence against women.
Hundreds of South Africans protested Booysen’s gruesome murder following her death, gathering at the site of her killing and chanting “enough is enough” in reference to the epidemic of sex crimes and violence plaguing women.