Pretoria - As Oscar Pistorius arrives each day at the High Court in Pretoria on trial for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, there is one woman who is always there for him: his petite younger sister Aimee.
The dark-haired 24 year old, who bears a strong resemblance to the siblings’ late mother Sheila, has been by Oscar’s side since February 14 last year, when the world woke to the shocking news that her famous brother had shot dead his girlfriend in his home at Silver Woods Country Estate in Pretoria.
Aimee was one of the first people Oscar called in the early hours of that terrible morning and she, together with their older brother, Carl, rushed to his home.
There, she had to go upstairs, accompanied by police, to fetch clothes for the brother she idolised who had been arrested.
Aimee was by Oscar’s side during his bail application last year.
She and other family members formed a circle to pray with him before proceedings started.
And, since his murder trial started, and every day of proceedings, she has been seated with other family members directly behind him, attentive to his needs.
Body language analyst Denise Bjorkman, chairwoman of the Pan African Council for Surveillance Professionals and Technologists, said through her businesslike dress style – with a lot of monotones – with hair often drawn back and make-up, as well as her demeanour, Aimee extended the “conservative nature of the nuclear and extended family”.
She says the Pistorius family members, walk and sit with purpose and rigidity, suggesting almost “a defensive protection of Oscar in the courtroom” and show “an extraordinary level of protectiveness”. Aimee, she notes, is anxious, pensive and clearly “engaged” with Oscar even though he cannot always see her.
She appears oblivious to the scrutiny of the international media and live broadcast of the trial; rather “the intensity of her body language is focused on Oscar and Oscar only”.
At critical points of testimony she anticipates his anxiety or pain and leans instinctively forward towards him – an almost imperceptible movement, but there. It was Aimee who was quick to his aid when he vomited in court during graphic evidence, his pained expression clear and her anguish equally obvious.
She’s been seen leaning right over the rail of the dock to whisper privately in his ear or give him a hug, and is the one to hand him water and tissues. The manner in which she leans forward and tucks her head into Oscar’s neck suggests a deep empathy between them – an empathy often seen in people who share common grief and backgrounds,” according to Bjorkman.
During breaks, Aimee sits with Oscar in the dock, her arms around him. From time to time, he’s been hands touching, eyes closed, drawing strength from her.
Aimee’s managed to hold her emotion in check, but in wiping her brother’s tears, she’s shed a few herself and she’s relied on other family members to give her succour at times. Her body posture suggests she is a “mediator” as was seen in her success in breaking the ice with Reeva’s mother, June, while the rest of the family was avoiding emotional and visual contact with her.
Described as Oscar’s “pillar of strength”, by those who know her, Aimee is regarded as a quiet and caring young woman.
Like Oscar, she was devastated by the loss of her mother as a child and had been estranged from their father, Henke, who, according to some who know her, was largely absent during her teenage years.
She also attended boarding school in Pretoria, studied at Tuks, and spent time with her aunt Luis and uncle Arnold Pistorius who were like parents to her and Oscar.
In a magazine interview before the shooting last year, Oscar described Aimee as his best friend and said they had looked after one another.
On Thursday, for the first time in weeks she posted on Twitter, stating: “being deeply loved gives you strength loving deeply gives you courage – Lou Tzu”