Calcutta/Johannesburg: South Africa’s Paralympic sprint star Oscar Pistorius is trying to negotiate an out-of-court compensation deal with the parents of his slain lover Reeva Steenkamp, a local newspaper said on Tuesday.
Lawyers for Pistorius, who goes on trial in March on murder charges for killing Steenkamp, are mulling a settlement for emotional stress and loss of income, South Africa’s The Times newspaper reporter. They reportedly want the matter settled before trial opens on March 3 next year.
The Steenkamp family lawyer Petrus de Bruyn confirmed discussions were underway, but refused to give details.
“We have both said that we are in talks with each other and that’s all we are prepared to say,” he said. The paper said Pistorius’s lawyer Kenny Oldwage had also spoken of talks with the Steenkamp family.
But when contacted by reporters, Oldwage said: “I am not aware of these discussions and I can’t comment.” Steenkamp and her half-brother had financially supported their parents, who are pensioners.
The support had included paying rent for their house in the southern coastal city of Port Elizabeth. The parents are reportedly planning to lodge a civil suit claiming three million rand ($300,000) in damages.
However, relatives of Reeva have denied reports that they are planning a civil suit. Reeva’s uncle, who acts as a spokesman for the family, told The Daily Telegraph that no such suit had been brought. Mike Steenkamp said the reports about the civil case were “wrongly directed”.
“There's nothing, no civil case, that I know of,” he said.
The 26-year-old Pistorius wept and prayed in court on Monday before being served with his indictment for murder and given his trial date.
Steenkamp, a blonde cover girl and law graduate who would have turned 30 on Monday, died in the bathroom of Pistorius’s upmarket Pretoria home in the early hours of February 14.
The double amputee athlete known as ‘Blade Runner’, who is currently out on bail, has admitted to killing Steenkamp but denied murder, saying he shot her through a locked bathroom door because he believed she was an intruder.
Prosecutors will argue he is guilty of premeditated murder.
Advocate Petrus de Bruyn, for the Steenkamps, said “nothing has been decided on yet”.
Steenkamp’s mother, June, declined to comment on the civil suit.
“This is just too much… we are grieving… missing our baby… our beautiful, beautiful daughter who should have been celebrating her birthday today (Monday),” June Steenkamp said.
On Monday, the track star was indicted in a South African court on a charge of premeditated murder of Steenkamp. Out on bail since February, he will remain free until his trial, which was set for March 3.
Prosecutors listed more than 100 witnesses to be called during the trial.
Pistorius had admitted to opening fire in his upscale home in the South African capital, Pretoria, but he said he believed that he was shooting an intruder.