#OscarPistorius: ITV interview ‘a PR exercise’

Oscar Pistorius sheds a tear during his first interview where he speaks to investigative journalist Mark Williams-Thomas. Screengrab: ITV

Oscar Pistorius sheds a tear during his first interview where he speaks to investigative journalist Mark Williams-Thomas. Screengrab: ITV

Published Jun 25, 2016


Johannesburg - For hundreds of thousands of viewers who tuned in on Friday night to watch Oscar Pistorius’s first television interview since he shot and killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013, it was all just an elaborate performance on the Olympian’s part.

A tearful Pistorius is seen in the interview with British broadcast journalist Mark Williams-Thomas of ITV saying among othe things: “I did take Reeva’s life and I have to live with that. I can smell the blood. I can feel the warmness of it on my hands. And to know that that’s your fault, that that’s what you’ve done...”

But Oscar’s interview, which was screened in the UK, then by Carte Blanche on M-Net on Friday night, has been slammed by many who stayed up to watch the much-anticipated interview.

Oscar Pistorius has given his first TV interview since killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp ... Your thoughts? https://t.co/57CFsHIGRM

— Nelson ✊ (@NelsonMokonyana) June 24, 2016

Among those unconvinced about Oscar’s honesty and autheniticity is clinical psychologist Leonard Carr, who took part in a post-show panel discussion which was also aired on Friday night. The panel included attorney Mannie Witz and former judge Chris Greenland, who said the broadcast will have no bearing on Judge Thokozile Masipa’s sentencing of Pistorius on July 6.

“This broadcast will have nothing to do with the wheels of justice that are still turning ... it will not be taken into account,” he said.

Carr did not hold back. He used words like “rehearsed” and “contrived” to describe Oscar’s “performance” for the interview.

“To me the interview sounded like a staged restatement of his evidence and what he’d like people to believe.”

The interview took place in the athlete’s uncle’s home in Pretoria, where he is under house arrest while awaiting sentencing.Pistorius gives a detailed account of what led to the shooting on the night of February 14, 2013, saying it still haunts him.

Carr was damning, saying it was as if Pistorius was “narrating a movie”. He added: “Remember that after three years he’s told this version to many people like lawyers, psychologists and psychiatrists, so there’s a certain amount of coaching and rehearsal.”

The psychologist added that he was “surprised” Pistorius remembered the minute details of the night he had shot Steenkamp, including the exchanges he had with Reeva, and the terms of endearment the two had shared with each other.

No one can fake the amount of emotion from @OscarPistorius #OscarPistorius in that interview. He is a broken man. So heartbreaking to watch!

— James Roberts (@JamesRoberts330) June 24, 2016

I feel like Oscar Pistorius has told this story so many times that he now believes it himself. Incredible. #OscarPistorius

— Sam Truelove (@samtruelove1) June 24, 2016

In the interview, Pistorius also says: “When I came in the room I placed my firearm on the left-hand side under the bed. And then she said Come on, let’s go and brush our teeth’ and I didn’t get up immediately. She called from the bathroom and she’s like Come baba, you have to brush your teeth’.

“So I’d taken my legs off. So I’m lying on the right hand side of the bed and my legs on the left and I don’t feel like walking across and getting them and everything.

So I walked to the bathroom on my stumps and then she gave me this little smile; you know like a kind of, like, right, I do... I’m the boss around here’ type thing.”

Carr said that in his experience, people who had been through a traumatic event would have suffered some sort of memory loss.

“Anyone who’s been through trauma would know that your memory is very patchy afterwards. Oscar tells such a smooth story. I think a lot of it is because it’s been rehearsed.”

Earlier this month Pistorius’s family insisted the interview would enable him to address some of the “misconceptions that have remained unchallenged”, and provide the family with a voice.

It has also been reported that the Pistorius family has said it would not be enriched by granting interviews, despite the fact that mounting legal fees have cost them a fortune.

“We are aware of the lucrative mini-industry of paid-for interviews and bought information that developed around this case and we wanted to steer very clear of this,” Arnold Pistorius reportedly told the Sowetan newspaper.

Another aspect of the interview met with scorn by Carr is that Pistorius says he believed Steenkamp would want him to devote his life to charity rather than be sent back to prison for killing her.

“I don’t want to go back to jail. I don’t want to have to waste my life sitting there. If I was afforded the opportunity of redemption, I would like to help the less fortunate,” he says.

“I would like to believe that if Reeva could look down upon me that she would want me to live that life.”

Carr said he was yet to see a “remorseful side” to Pistorius.

“It still seems to be all about Oscar and it’s very hard to know who he really is because the versions keep changing, the public relations keep changing.

“I haven’t seen evidence of remorse that would focus on paying the price, having genuine regard for the feelings of the Steenkamps, and understanding that in killing Reeva he destroyed someone’s potential who was possibly going to have children and grandchildren and all kinds of good was going to come from her.”

Carr added that he believes the interview was nothing more than a public relations exercise.

“I think that if he would have given evidence that showed remorse, that he had done some reflection I think it could have been mitigating.

“If you look at Barry Steenkamp, he looks like a broken man... whereas Oscar shows a huge emotional display. but that is often related to emotional superficiality. That is why I have always seen Oscar more as a performer.”

On a whole other subject - Oscar Pistorius. Too ill to testify at his sentencing hearing, but happy to do a TV interview.

— Liz (@LizWoodbridge) June 24, 2016


Cringing so bad at Oscar Pistorius' lack of acting skills, he's proven his guilt with that interview! #OscarPistorious

— Tasha Warren (@tashaewarren) June 25, 2016


@OscarPistorius Deserves an #Oscar after last nights interview. He is a big baby that can't handle the consequences of his actions.

— Ashveer Singh (@AshveerSingh06) June 25, 2016

Saturday Star

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