The trial of Oscar Pistorius in the death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp is ending
A verdict is due from the judge on Thursday
CNN's Robin Curnow first met Pistorius in 2008, and has covered his case
She writes from an insider's view of a tragedy played out in a global spotlight
Editor’s Note: Robyn Curnow is an anchor and correspondent for CNN.
It took the tragedy of Reeva’s Steenkamp’s death for the media, for South Africa, to realize just how brightly Oscar Pistorius’ star had ascended after the London Olympics when he ran against able-bodied athletes.
Shock over the shooting reverberated across the world, not just at home.
His story had touched people – it was the classic tale of triumph over adversity, of hope and determination. And then it was all over.
The fallout was immediate, furious and personal. South Africans seemed to have a deep emotional attachment to Oscar Pistorius the hero and then, inevitably, his fall from grace.
The interest in the case and the court case has never really subsided, every twist and turn has been analyzed and debated and there is still an insatiable appetite for the story.
I first met Oscar Pistorius in 2008 at his home, in the bedroom that was to become a crime scene five years later.
He was young, enthusiastic and eager. Sitting on the edge of his bed, he showed our camera his different prosthetics and his stumps, explaining patiently about his birth defect and where his legs had been amputated as a child. He seemed determined, somewhat naïve and enthusiastic about his future.
By Valentine’s Day last year he was a different person.
He walked into the magistrate’s court days after he shot his girlfriend and looked like a blank, broken man. The implications of his actions – whether it was intentional or negligent or neither – were etched on his face. His future plans and the life that of the woman he said he loved were over.
The vomiting, the crying and the sobbing in court seemed genuine, I didn’t think he was ‘faking it’ as the state and critics suggested. No matter whether he’s judged innocent or guilty it was clear Pistorius’ emotions were raw, remorseful.
He still treasures photographs of Reeva and him together, his uncle Arnold told us in an interview at the home where Oscar is living. The vomiting and retching were a physical manifestation of the gut-wrenching reality of his actions. Later, psychiatrists said it was a result of post-traumatic stress disorder
Throughout the court drama and the media focus on Oscar Pistorius, Reeva’s Steenkamp’s mother, June, sat a few meters from him – still, stony-faced and stoic.
I don’t know how she managed to compose herself, especially on the days in court when Pistorius described the night her daughter died and then, shockingly, the day the state showed the court images of her dead daughter’s bloodied head. Brave, strong woman.
On Thursday, Judge Thokozile Masipa is set to deliver her verdict in the case, with possibilities ranging from a life sentence to Pistorius – nicknamed the “Blade Runner” for the prosthetic devices on his legs – leaving court a free man.
For all the families involved, this has been a tragedy played out in the glare of cameras and intense public interest. For our CNN team covering the story since February 14, 2013, it’s been important for us not have to have taken sides, or to reduce Reeva’s death and Oscar’s actions to a tawdry soap opera. Instead, we’ve tried to instead reflect public sentiment and to let the justice system and the legal process wind its way to a conclusion.