Pretoria: Oscar Pistorius is a "broken man" after killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp because he lost her, his reputation, friends, income and sense of self-worth, a psychologist called by the Olympic runner's lawyers testified today.
Dr. Lore Hartzenberg gave the testimony ahead of Pistorius' sentencing for culpable homicide, and it was almost
immediately characterized by the chief prosecutor as unbalanced.
A sentence for culpable homicide can range from a suspended sentence and a fine to as many as 15 years in prison.
Judge Thokozile Masipa last month found Pistorius not guilty of both premeditated murder and murder in his killing
of Steenkamp in the predawn hours of Valentine's Day at his home last year.
Several police officers stood guard on the dais where the judge sat amid concerns about her security. Masipa drew
criticism from some South Africans who thought Pistorius could at least have been convicted of a lesser murder charge
on the grounds that he knew a person could die when he fired four bullets through a toilet door and into a small
cubicle, killing Steenkamp.
Prosecutors said Pistorius had opened fire in anger after the couple argued. The runner testified that he mistook
Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and budding reality TV star, for an intruder who was about to come out of the toilet
and attack him.
Hartzenberg said the double-amputee runner had sometimes cried, retched, perspired and paced up and down during
sessions in which she tried to assist him.
"Some of the sessions were just him weeping and crying and me holding him," Hartzenberg said. She testified she had
been counselling a grief-stricken Pistorius since soon after the Feb. 14, 2013 killing of Steenkamp.
The testimony was part of an effort by the runner's legal team to persuade Masipa that Pistorius has suffered
emotionally and materially and that he is remorseful. The team hopes the judge will be lenient when she sentences
Pistorius, once a celebrated athlete who ran in the 2012 Olympics, after what is expected to be a week of legal
argument and testimony.
"We are left with a broken man who has lost everything," Hartzenberg said during her testimony.