Reeva needed a voice - Cousin

OCTOBER 16, 2014

Reeva Steenkamp’s cousin, Kim Martin, decided to testify in the sentencing procedures of Oscar Pistorius because Reeva needed a voice, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.

“I knew I had to be here, I had to do this, I had to do this for Reeva, I owe her this. I know Reeva needs a voice. My way of looking at this is to pay her back for what she meant to me,” Martin said.

Martin said she spoke to Steenkamp’s parents, June and Barry, on Tuesday because she was worried she would disappoint them when she took the stand and spoke about family matters.

Barry told her that she could never disappoint them, that she had their blessing and needed to be “Reeva’s voice”.

Martin said Barry had said, he would “just lose it” if he had to take the stand.

On the stand, she narrated the moment she heard a radio’s “breaking news” announcement that Oscar Pistorius had shot and killed his girlfriend. She had been driving in the car with her husband.

“I remember saying to my husband ‘I hope to God he’s cheating on Reeva...’ I was just praying it wasn’t Reeva. He said Oscar Pistorius. I remember jumping up on the front seat. It was the worst experience I have ever had. I felt like it was the end of the world. I called Reeva... I called and called and she wasn’t answering. I remember screaming in the car,” said Martin.

Her voice cracked. She broke down, her face reddened.

In the public gallery, Barry and June Steenkamp also wiped away tears.

Pistorius also wept bitterly, his head buried in his hands, in the dock.

As Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned proceedings for Martin to compose herself, her husband went to the witness stand to console her.

“The very first time I held a baby was when Reeva was born. I was 12. My aunt gave her to me and I was very scared. We had a very strong bond from a young age. She had a nurturing personality even from a young age,” Martin continued.

“I remember calling my mother, saying ‘Please tell me it’s not Reeva.’ She said, ‘I’m sorry, it’s her’.”

Martin’s voice cracked. She said she could not remember much of what happened after that, or any events of the days following. But she remembers her aunt and uncle’s pain.

“My aunt was hysterical… she was very medicated. My uncle sat in the corner. He was crying… crying and crying. Reeva was everything to them. She was their only child for a long time.

“They absolutely adored here. They were so proud of her… what she had accomplished. Reeva was… I didn’t know how they would cope. I didn’t think they would cope,” she said, adding that her own children had to have therapy.

Martin had met Pistorius a month earlier, on January 2 when he was in Cape Town with her cousin.

“I remember asking Reeva, ‘Are you happy?’ She shrugged her shoulders and said, ‘yes… but we need to talk.’ I never got a chance to ask her, ‘What do you mean we need to talk?’ That has bothered me since then,” Martin said.

Reeva the person

“She was a fun-loving child. From a young age, she stood out. Something about her… she was like a little missy,” Martin said.

Steenkamp loved animals so much that when a family poodle named Jade got paralysed and lost the use of its legs, she became its legs.

“She would carry it around,” Martin added.

Then there were cats, stray cats she would take in and take care of.

One of the cats went missing while in Martin’s care. For two days, they searched for the cat, and she had to lie about it being okay when Steenkamp called to check up on it. But the cat was never found and they had to break the news to her.

“She was devastated… heartbroken. For her that was like losing a child,” Martin told the court.

The sentencing continues this morning.