Slain Pistorius girlfriend leaves haunting TV message

JOHANNESBURG: A celebrity television show on Saturday aired haunting footage of Oscar Pistorius' slain girlfriend speaking about the need to leave a positive mark on life, words laden with unintended poignancy two days after her shocking death.

"Not just your journey in life, but the way that you go out and make your exit is so important, you have either made an impact in a positive way or a negative way," Reeva Steenkamp said in the celebrity reality TV show.

The 29-year-old model and law school graduate was shot four times at Pistorius's home in the early hours of Valentine's Day on Thursday in a case that shocked the country and topped news broadcasts around the world.

Pistorius -- a national icon who inspired people around the world when he became the first double amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes in the Olympic Games last year -- remained in a police cell on Saturday, charged with murdering his girlfriend in cold blood.

His uncle on Saturday gave the strongest indication yet that the star athlete, who broke down sobbing during his initial court appearance the previous day, would plead not guilty to the charges against him.

"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," Arnold Pistorius said in a statement.

"We are all grieving for Reeva, her family and her friends," he said.

"Oscar -- as you can imagine -- is also numb with shock as well as grief."

The track star faces a life sentence if convicted of premeditated murder, as alleged by state prosecutors.

Arnold Pistorius added that the couple "had plans together."

"Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time."

On Saturday, television offered the world a small glimpse of the less well-known half of the doomed couple.

A one minute tribute before "Tropika Island of Treasure" showed Steenkamp appearing contemplative and at ease with herself, sitting beneath a beach-front palm, dressed in a strappy top and a yellow, black and dotted bikini, with her blonde hair tied back.

Looking deep into the camera, she also offered some advice to the up to three million people who watch the show every week.

"Just maintain integrity and maintain class and just always be true to yourself," she said in what now sounds like a soliloquy on a life cut short.

"I'm going to miss you all so much."

But there were plenty of more light-hearted moments.

Steenkamp is seen swimming with dolphins and smiling broadly as she floats down the jungle-flanked Martha Brae River on a punted bamboo raft.

The model blew kisses, laughed and splashed across an aquatic obstacle course with other contestants trying not to be voted off the show.

The reality show, shot on location in Jamaica, featured the slain model as well as 13 other local personalities competing for one million rand ($113,500) prize money.

Producers defended their decision not to shelve the show, instead painting its broadcast as a tribute to Steenkamp.

"She was happy, healthy, beautiful and vibrant and that's the way she should be remembered," said executive producer Samantha Moon.

In an earlier statement Moon said the decision to broadcast Tropika Island of Treasure 5 was taken after "much deliberation."

"This week's episode will be dedicated to Reeva's memory."

The show was broadcast on state television channel SABC1, which said Steenkamp's mother had given the showing her blessing.

Many more than the three million South Africans who normally watch the show were expected to tune in.

Many found it bitter sweet.

"It's so painful watching Reeva smile at us on TV, while knowing she's no longer with us" MotsoPitsi wrote on Twitter.

"Tragic loss of Reeva Steenkamp-she looked so vibrant, sweet, young and beautiful. So said for her family," wrote Cavil Shepherd.

Born in the southern city of Port Elizabeth, Steenkamp moved to Johannesburg six years ago to pursue her modelling career. She had been dating Pistorius since at least November.

Elsewhere forensics teams are still working at Pistorius' home to try and establish what took place before and after Steenkamp was shot in the head and hand.

And the medal winner was expected to receive visits from family and from members of his defence team, who are preparing for a bail hearing that will begin Tuesday ahead of what is expected to be a lengthy trial. The state is expected to strongly oppose bail.

Meanwhile unconfirmed details of Steenkamp's last hours appeared in the South African press.

Beeld, an Afrikaans newspaper which initially broke the story of the murder, reported that two hours before the shooting neighbours complained to complex security over the loud fighting at the house.

Beeld had initially said Steenkamp was shot having been mistaken for an intruder, but this claim has been dismissed by police and prosecutors.

The daily also reported that Steenkamp was shot through the bathroom door while on the toilet.

Using unnamed and unquoted sources the paper said Pistorius carried Steenkamp in his arms downstairs and tried performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

When guards arrived Steenkamp was breathing, but was gargling blood because of her injuries.

The paper also reported that aside from the weapon used to kill Steenkamp, Pistorius had pending licence applications for seven other guns, including .223 semi-automatic -- the same type of weapon used to kill 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the United States in December.

- AFP/fa

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