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Cape Town - When global sports star Oscar Pistorius steps into the dock in Pretoria on Monday, the grieving family of his dead girlfriend will be gathering in Port Elizabeth to commemorate her 30th birthday.
The 26-year-old double-amputee sprinter is to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, where he is expected to be served with an indictment for murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day.
It is expected to be announced on Monday that Pistorius - who is free on R1 million bail - will go on trial in March on murder charges.
“The trial will be in March next year. It will be from the first week of March until end of March,” his attorney, Kenny Oldwadge, said last week.
Police said the investigation into Steenkamp’s death had been completed. National spokesman Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale said Pistorius would be served with an indictment when he appeared in court on Monday, and the matter would be postponed.
“The prosecution, in collaboration with the defence team, will agree on a trial date,” he said.
“The SAPS investigation team, under the leadership of Lieutenant-General Vineshkumar Moonoo, is convinced that the accused has a charge to answer to after they worked tirelessly to ensure that the investigation was finalised.”
The investigation team comprised detectives and forensic, ballistics, and technology experts, as well as forensic psychologists.
On Sunday, when asked to comment on Monday’s proceedings, family advocate Dup de Bruyn said of Steenkamp’s grieving parents, Barry and June: “They’ll have no involvement at the proceedings tomorrow (Monday) at all - we imagine a date will simply be set.”
The Steenkamp family would not be in court. Instead, they would be holding a quiet, private family gathering to commemorate what would have been a special birthday for their daughter.
“They’re very traumatised, and they don’t want to say anything,” De Bruyn told the Cape Argus.
Steenkamp was born on August 19, 1983, in Cape Town, when her father worked in the city as a horse trainer. The family later moved to Port Elizabeth, where she enrolled at St Dominic’s Priory School.
She later studied law at the city’s university and had hoped, to have qualified to practice law by what would have been her 30th birthday, various reports detail. Instead, it will have been 186 days since she was killed by a volley of bullets in the bathroom of Pistorius’s home in Silver Lakes golf estate in Pretoria East.
Since her death, her parents have suffered not only grief, but the added stress of financial difficulties. This has led to their reported decision to sue Pistorius.
June Steenkamp told the Daily Mail in June: “‘Our hearts just feel broken. But we have no choice but to sue. Pistorius has placed us in this position.
“We are struggling financially. Reeva was helping us. On the night she died, when she was on her way to Oscar’s house, we talked about her sending us money to pay our cable television bill. I was fretting because I thought I was going to miss her first TV appearance.
“She told me not to worry, she would send money the next day. She regularly helped us with food and utility bills.”
In March, Pistorius’s bail conditions were relaxed when Judge Bert Bam said Pistorius could travel under certain conditions.
His passport would be held by a court while he is in South Africa, and he could leave the country if he provided an itinerary of his travel plans at least a week before he is due to leave.
He would also have to hand his travel documents back to the court within 24 hours of returning home
Instead, however, Pistorius’s rare public appearances have been restricted to kayaking in Hermanus a fortnight ago, and, in June, when he resumed a “low-key” training routine in June at the University of Pretoria.
His agent, Peet van Zyl, said at the time: “I think it’s huge for him. He was overcome with emotion when he put on his blades.”
Pistorius had described the experience as “bitter-sweet” after the track session, the agent said, who also described Pistorius’s first formal session in five months as “really emotional”, according to the Daily Mail.