By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Barry Steenkamp, the father of Reeva Steenkamp, the woman who was fatally shot in 2013 by South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius, has died at the age of 80, a family announced on Friday.
Barry Steenkamp died in his sleep on Thursday evening, a source from foundation set up in memory of the late Reeva said, an information confirmed by family lawyer and spokesperson Tania Koen.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the sudden and peaceful passing of Barry Steenkamp,” the foundation said in a statement on its Facebook page. “Barry was a blessing to many, and he will be remembered with love and great fondness.”
“We find solace in the knowledge that he is now with his beloved Reeva.”
Barry Steenkamp cut a grieving and sometimes angry figure during Pistorius’ murder trial for the killing of 29-year-old Reeva, who was a model and law graduate.
Pistorius was ultimately convicted of murder and sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison after a series of appeals for shooting his girlfriend multiple times through a closed toilet cubicle door in his home in the predawn hours of Valentine’s Day 2013.
Pistorius said he mistook Reeva Steenkamp for a dangerous nighttime intruder hiding in his bathroom and shot her multiple times through the toilet door in self-defense.
He was initially convicted of culpable homicide, an offence comparable to manslaughter in 2014 and sentenced to five years in prison. That was overturned and replaced with a murder conviction and his sentence was increased after appeals by prosecutors.
Pistorius, 36, is still in jail but the double-amputee former runner and multiple Paralympic champion is seeking release on parole. He attended a parole hearing in March, when South African authorities said he will only be eligible for early release next August.
Barry Steenkamp met face-to-face with Pistorius last year as part of a program in South Africa that gives victims of crime or their families a chance to confront offenders who have applied for parole.
At that meeting, Steenkamp said he urged Pistorius to confess that he had intentionally shot Reeva in rage after an argument.