Blood money: Reeva's parents set the record straight

Barry & June Steenkamp have issued a statement about Oscar Pistorius's apparent offer of a lump sum payment.

Reeva Steenkamp's parents, June and Barry leave the North Gauteng High Court after the first day of sentencing arguments in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

PRETORIA - Barry and June Steenkamp have this morning issued a statement to set the record straight that Oscar Pistorius's offer of a settlement was a response to their request.

Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide last month for the 2013 killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day.

On Tuesday prosecutor Gerrie Nel at the High Court in Pretoria revealed Reeva's mother June had declined the settlement, describing it as blood money.

Advocate Dup de Bruyn says, in a statement, it was Barry and June's legal team that approached the blade runner's lawyers with a request to reach a financial settlement.

It emerged in court that Pistorius offered Reeva's parents R375,000 as a settlement and that he was paying the family R6,000 a month.

De Bruyn says the request for an offer came from their side and not from Pistorius.

He says the monthly payments were offered by the athlete soon after the shooting, as a contribution to the Steenkamp's rent and other expenses.

De Bruyn says that Pistorius had requested that payments be kept confidential and they were surprised when this was disclosed in court on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the cross examination of defence witness and probation officer Annette Vergeer continues this morning.

Vergeer has recommended that Pistorius be sentenced to correctional supervision because he is vulnerable.

But Nel questioned Vergeer about her previous reports on the state of South Africa's prison and has tried to show the court that they are out dated and irrelevant.

Nel, "Your opinion is that this accused cannot be incarcerated for certain reasons, or imprisoned. You never asked the department if they have a policy on how they treat disabled people. You never thought of just asking."

Vergeer, "I have consulted with them, that's in my report. I have already referred to that, my lady."

Nel, "You've consulted with a person on a phone. That's all."

PISTORIUS 'CAN ONLY BLAME HIMSELF'

An email sent from Pistorius' agent Peet van Zyl to the athlete's legal team reveals he believes his client's prospects of future public speaking engagements has been ruined by the prosecution team in his trial and inaccurate media reports.

This emerged during the cross-examination of the defence team's third witness, as they attempt to secure a minimum sentence for the blade runner.

In an email containing a picture of Pistorius speaking to an audience about disability awareness, van Zyl says these platforms have been taken away by the state and the media.

But he then conceded it was an incorrect interpretation of the situation and dismissed prosecutor Gerrie Nel's suggestion that he views his client as a victim.

Nel, "The fact that he is not being invited to address people, who do you blame for that?"

Van Zyl, "Mr Pistoriis can only blame that on himself."

Nel, "Why should he be blamed? Because he killed someone and was convicted, am I right?"

Van Zyl, "That is correct."

The defence is expected to conclude today.

THE STATE'S WITNESS LIST

Speculation is rife about who the prosecution will call as witnesses in aggravation of sentence against the blade runner, after several interesting people appeared in the public gallery of the courtroom on Tuesday.

The state is expected to begin calling its witnesses today, after the defence's last witness finalised her testimony.

A motley crew of characters appeared in the back rows of the public gallery during the last session of the day.

Former footballer Mark Batchelor was accompanied by Affliction clothing brand owner Jared Mortimer.

Both men have had run-ins with Pistorius in the past.

Their friend, the heavily tattooed, self-confessed hit man, Mikey Schultz sat alongside them.

So too did former bouncer Guil Yahav, who was once previously also accused of murder.

Yahav was with Pistorius when he was involved in a nightclub scuffle with Mortimer earlier this year.

The men, along with the athlete's ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor all disappeared into chambers to consult with the prosecution after court proceedings.

But inside the courtroom Pistorius's uncle Arnold anxiously rallied police officers to escort his nephew out of the building, saying they were concerned for his safety.

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Follow the court proceedings live on EWN's Oscar Pistorius trial blog.