Slain model Reeva Steenkamp an accomplished rider

South African model Reeva Steenkamp, allegedly shot dead by her blade runner boyfriend Oscar Pistorius, was an accomplished horse rider who had recovered from a broken back suffered six years ago in a fall.

Reeva Steenkamp
Reeva Steenkamp

Steenkamp’s back injury was so bad that she had to learn to walk again, according to reports.

She was the daughter of well known horse trainer Barry Steenkamp, and his wife, June.

Barry Steenkamp told reporters: “She was the most beautiful, kind girl in the world. She had love for everyone, and she was loved by everyone who knew her.”

Born in Cape Town, she grew up in Port Elizabeth, where her father based his racehorse training operation.

The model, who appeared on the cover of FHM magazine late last year, told the publication of her love for riding until her bad back injury.

“People assume I’m of the princess variety, but the only Barbie I had growing up was one that came with a horse,” she said.

“I only ever had guy mates growing up – and I’m grateful for it.

“I used to ride horses until a bad fall left me with a broken back, but I can jam some hockey and netball.”

“People assume I’m of the princess variety, but the only Barbie I had growing up was one that came with a horse,” she said.

She attended convent school, St Dominic’s Priory, and modelled from her mid-teens.

She studied law at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan university and in 2011 applied to join the Bar. “As I walked out I got a call for the FHM shoot as well as two others. I made a decision to do the modelling. I believe in destiny,” she said.

She became the face of cosmetic company Avon in South Africa.

Police are continuing their inquiries into precisely what happened at the luxury home of Pistorius, 26, the blade-running double-amputee paralympian who made the semifinals of the 400 metres at the London Olympics.

The shooting unfolded in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in Pistorius’s home on the security-patrolled Silver Woods estate in Pretoria.

Steenkamp, who had been dating Pistorius since November, is believed to have arrived at the house around 7pm on the night of the shooting.

It appears she was shot through the door of a bathroom or toilet in the house shortly before 4am.

One reported suggested Pistorius called a close friend soon after, around 3.55am, sobbing: “My baba, I’ve killed my baba. God take me away.”

Several hours before the shooting, neighbours complained to estate security guards about the noise coming from the house.

Reports from South Africa indicate Steenkamp, 29, was sitting on a toilet when she was hit four times by gunshots. The bullets struck her arm, head, hip and finger. The evidence indicated three of the shots had been fired through the bathroom door, which has been removed from the house as evidence.

Oscar Pistorius at the 2011 World Athletics Championships in Korea.
Oscar Pistorius at the 2011 World Athletics Championships in Korea. © Erik van Leeuwen

It is believed she was alive when carried downstairs as Pistorius apparently tried to revive her.

Pistorius sobbed when he appeared in court charged with her murder. He is being held in a police station, pending a bid for bail.

Pistorius is known as a keen marksman and is understood to own a pistol and machinegun. A 9mm pistol was recovered from the scene.

Steenkamp’s publicist, Sarit Tomlinson, said of her client: “She was the sweetest human being, the kindest most unbelievable girl. She was a rising star. There was so much in the pipeline for her: she was just about to explode into the media. She was a very talented, very bright young girl.”

Former headmaster Greg Stokell described her as a “vibrant, friendly, diligent, and motivated student who was popular with and respected by staff and peers alike”.

Arnold Pistorious, an uncle of Oscar, said: “Words cannot adequately describe our feelings. The lives of our entire family have been turned upside down for ever by this unimaginable human tragedy and Reeva’s family have suffered a terrible loss.

“As a family we are trying to be strong and supportive to Oscar as any close family would be in these dreadful circumstances.

“After consulting with legal representatives we deeply regret the allegation of premeditated murder. We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation and that the State’s own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder or indeed any murder at all.”



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