‘Oscar will always be an inspiration’

By Theresa Taylor Time of article published Sep 11, 2014

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Johannesburg - Oscar Pistorius’s friends have not considered the possibility that he may go to jail.

They haven’t taken time to prepare themselves.

Instead they have put their energy into keeping the faith.

“I don’t want to speculate on how it’s going to end, but I have to trust (Judge Thokozile) Masipa,” says Sigridur Hanna Johannesdottir. “I have faith she will see this was an accident.”

Johannesdottir, who lives in Iceland, and her family have been friends with Pistorius since Johannesdottir’s grandson, Haflidi Hafthorsson, was born with the same disability nine years ago.

At the beginning of the trial Johannesdottir and her daughter arrived unannounced, and sat in court for three weeks supporting their friend.

Johannesdottir came back with her husband a few weeks ago for the closing arguments and to spend more time with the Pistorius family.

“It has been interesting how the media has gone crazy about the case. In my mind, here is a young man who was involved in a tragic accident with terrible consequences,” she says.

While in Iceland, Johannesdottir followed the trial daily by live streaming it on the internet.

But seeing Pistorius distressed has meant her heart is here in South Africa, even when she is in Iceland.

“There’s not a doubt in my mind it happened like he said,” says Johannesdottir. “Oscar is still an inspiration; he will always be.”

How did it feel sitting in court hearing about the “other Oscar” sketched by prosecutor Gerrie Nel?

The one who got into fights, was reckless with guns, was selfish, and always passed the buck? Most importantly, the one who was capable of killing someone in cold blood? “It doesn’t affect me at all,” says Johannesdottir. “Oscar is a caring, kind young man.”

Johannesdottir can pinpoint which was the most difficult part of the trial to watch - when Pistorius himself was on the stand.

“I’m sure if Reeva’s parents had met him before, they would know for sure it was an accident,” she says. “The only thing on his mind was to protect their daughter.”

She stops.

“My heart goes out to them. Oscar always says: ‘Please pray for them, for Reeva’s family.’”

Over the years Pistorius has supported Johannesdottir’s family, offering advice and visiting them and their children.

As a result, Haflidi is a committed athlete, playing soccer and other sports on teams with disabled and able-bodied athletes.

 

“Disabled doesn’t mean you are out,” says Johannesdottir.

That’s what Pistorius taught them.

Johannesdottir and her daughter, Ebba Gudny Gudmundsdottir, explained to Haflidi about the shooting that Valentine’s Day morning.

When people ask Haflidi about what happened, he responds by saying it was an accident.

“He’s my friend,” he tells people.

Haflidi is growing up to be confident, which the family credit to Pistorius’s mentorship.

Haflidi

wears his disability proudly, never ashamed to explain to the other kids about his legs, or show them his stumps.

Gudmundsdottir and her husband have taught all their children to see themselves as the same, and with that comes being comfortable enough to joke about their differences.

When Haflidi received an honours award at school, his sister turned to her grandmother and whispered: “It’s just because he doesn’t have legs.”

But all that being said, it is still a massive disability to have an amputation.

Johannesdottir crinkles her forehead and says sometimes she worries the family is so focused on being positive that they forget the significant challenges Haflidi will face throughout his life.

But staying positive is important.

“A bit of denial is sometimes necessary to cope,” she says.

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The Star

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