Oscar Pistorius reacts as he sits in the dock during his murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday. Picture: Gianluigi Guercia

Pretoria -

It was an emotional day for Oscar Pistorius and his family as they marked his mother Sheila’s birthday on Thursday.

After taking his seat in the dock, the “Blade Runner” hugged a family member for a long time.

It appeared as if they prayed together before the start of court proceedings.

His sister, Aimee, also appeared tearful as she hugged another family member for several minutes.

Sheila Pistorius died at the age of 42 on March 6, 2002.

Commemorating her death this year was also emotional for Pistorius as he spent that day holding prayer beads in the dock.

As he made his was to the dock on Thursday, Pistorius stopped to hug a woman sitting in the public gallery.

It later appeared to be social worker Yvette van Schalkwyk, who was asked by a lower court last February to emotionally assist him and to monitor his behaviour during his bail application.

This week, Van Schalkwyk approached the defence and insisted on taking the stand.

She explained that she was upset by what she had read in the media relating to claims that Pistorius had put on an act when he cried “when he needed to”, and was emotional in court to manipulate the situation.

The man she saw on February 15 last year, the day after he shot Reeva Steenkamp, was a broken person, Van Schalkwyk said.

“He cried, he vomited, he was broken about her loss and he kept on saying he felt sorry for her family, especially her parents.

“He loved her.”

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel objected to this evidence, but Judge Thokozile Masipa allowed it.

Van Schalkwyk said Pistorius told her of his and Steenkamp’s plans.

“I saw a heartbroken man who suffered emotionally.”

She submitted four reports to the lower court as part of Pistorius’s bail conditions, stating that he had consulted his psychologist regularly and that he had been co-operative and had tried to work through his trauma.

Drug tests had been conducted on him. All had been negative.

During cross-examination, Nel told Van Schalkwyk she saw Pistorius a day after his arrest, when he was crying and felt sorry for himself.

“Did he say he killed her or that she shot her? Nel asked.

“Most people are traumatised following their arrest.”

Van Schalkwyk responded that Pistorius said “he missed Reeva so much and that he had accidentally shot her”.

Nel said Pistorius’s version was that he thought he shot at intruders and not that he accidentally shot Steenkamp.

He also questioned whether Pistorius had told Van Schalkwyk he was sorry for what he had done.

She responded that he said he was sorry about what had happened.

“He told you he missed Reeva,” Nel argued.

“It’s all about him…

“One would expect he would show remorse and accept what he had done.”

Nel added that other witnesses also said Pistorius was traumatised after shooting Steenkamp.

That was not in dispute, he said.

“We already got that.”

Pretoria News