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Who was Oscar Pistorius’s girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp?

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Just over ten years ago, successful model, law graduate and TV star Reeva Steenkamp was murdered by her boyfriend, Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, at their home in South Africa. 

Reeva, who was 29, was a cover girl and socialite who described herself as a ‘brainy, blonde, bombshell’, and the beloved youngest daughter of June and Barry Steenkamp.

Her killer, Pistorius, fatally shot Reeva four times through the bathroom door in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013.

Pistorius, 36, claimed during his trial that he believed Ms Steenkamp was an intruder, but was eventually found guilty of murder and sentenced to 13 years and five months. 

Now the disgraced athlete, who was the first double-amputee to compete in the able-bodied Olympics, will go in front of a parole hearing to see if he is eligible for early release.

Here, MailOnline takes a look at the life of Reeva, which was so tragically cut short. 

Reeva, who was 29, was a cover girl and socialite who described herself as a 'brainy, blonde bombshell'

Reeva, who was 29, was a cover girl and socialite who described herself as a ‘brainy, blonde bombshell’

Reeva, then 29, was murdered by her boyfriend Oscar Pistorius on Valentine's Day 2013

Reeva, then 29, was murdered by her boyfriend Oscar Pistorius on Valentine’s Day 2013

Ms Steenkamp's parents Barry and June originally forgave Pistorius, but now want him to spend life behind bars

Ms Steenkamp’s parents Barry and June originally forgave Pistorius, but now want him to spend life behind bars

Early life

Reeva Rebecca Steenkamp was born on August 9, 1983 at the Greenpoint Hospital in Cape Town. 

Her mother, June, was born in Blackburn in the north of England while her father Barry, 79, is South African.

June, 79, spoke of her husband picking her and their newborn up from the hospital in a minivan with five of her ‘favourite dogs’. 

The pet-loving couple had nine dogs at their home at the time and Barry also worked as a horse trainer.

The Steenkamps have set up a charitable foundation in Reeva¿s name to help battered women and Reeva¿s mother is planning a refuge for victims of domestic violence

The Steenkamps have set up a charitable foundation in Reeva’s name to help battered women and Reeva’s mother is planning a refuge for victims of domestic violence

As a little girl, Reeva grew up surrounded by animals, and became a keen horse rider

As a little girl, Reeva grew up surrounded by animals, and became a keen horse rider

Reeva pictured dressed as a princess. She attended her first horse show at just four and a half

Reeva pictured dressed as a princess. She attended her first horse show at just four and a half

Their little Reeva: Barry and June Steenkamp shared a series of pictures of their daughter after speaking to MailOnline as the 10th anniversary of her murder approaches

Their little Reeva: Barry and June Steenkamp shared a series of pictures of their daughter after speaking to MailOnline as the 10th anniversary of her murder approaches 

As a little girl, Reeva grew up surrounded by animals, and became a keen horse rider, attending her first horse show at just four and a half.

Tragically, she quit horse riding after breaking her back in her early 20s, an injury which left her needing to relearn how to walk.

Education

Barry said in a recent Channel 4 documentary that as a very young girl, Reeva was determined to bet on a horse at a race. 

His clever daughter, he said, wanted to use her winnings to pay for her school fees. 

She attended St Dominic’s Priory School, an independent co-educational Catholic primary and high school.

Reeva attended St Dominic's Priory School, an independent co-educational Catholic primary and high school

Reeva attended St Dominic’s Priory School, an independent co-educational Catholic primary and high school

After leaving school she studied law at the University of Port Elizabeth, which became a part of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

She graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 2005 and applied to the bar in late 2011, with the hope of becoming a qualified legal advocate by the age of 30.

She worked as a paralegal alongside her successful modelling career.

Modelling career

A successful model, as a finalist in the Weekend Post Faces of the Future competition in 2004 and in the Herald Miss Port Elizabeth contest in 2005

A successful model, as a finalist in the Weekend Post Faces of the Future competition in 2004 and in the Herald Miss Port Elizabeth contest in 2005

Reeva appeared in FHM magazine as a model and cover girl and was ranked number 40 in the FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World poll

Reeva appeared in FHM magazine as a model and cover girl and was ranked number 40 in the FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World poll

Reeva modeled for the jewelry company Sivana Diamonds and was the first face of Avon cosmetics in South Africa

Reeva modeled for the jewelry company Sivana Diamonds and was the first face of Avon cosmetics in South Africa

Reeva began modelling as a teenager and her first modelling job was on the beach with a little girl. 

The model looks almost unrecognisable in the pictures, with dark hair and wearing a wedding dress, something her mother poignantly said she never got to do in real life.

She was a finalist in the Weekend Post Faces of the Future competition in 2004 and in the Herald Miss Port Elizabeth contest in 2005.

She appeared in FHM magazine as a model and cover girl and was ranked number 40 in the FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World poll of South African FHM readers in 2011 and number 45 in 2012.

She also modeled for the jewelry company Sivana Diamonds and was the first face of Avon cosmetics in South Africa.

Campaigning

Reeva was a celebrity face of the Spirit Day anti-bullying campaign in 2012. 

She was also an outspoken voice on tackling misogyny in South Africa, with her final Instagram before her death paying tribute to Anene Booysen who was gang raped and murdered just days before. 

Tragically, Reeva had planned to give a talk about gender-based violence at a Johannesburg school on the day she was killed by Oscar Pistorius. Pictured together in Johannesburg in 2013

Tragically, Reeva had planned to give a talk about gender-based violence at a Johannesburg school on the day she was killed by Oscar Pistorius. Pictured together in Johannesburg in 2013

Tragically, Reeva had planned to give a talk about gender-based violence at a Johannesburg school on the day she was killed by Oscar Pistorius.

In 2015, her mother went to the school to deliver the speech on behalf of her daughter.

‘I will now carry on where she left off,’ June told students, before she read excerpts of the speech her daughter had prepared for the talk on Valentine’s Day 2013. 

The Steenkamps have set up a charitable foundation in Reeva’s name to help battered women and Reeva’s mother is planning a refuge for victims of domestic violence. 

TV star

Reeva Steenkamp poses on set during the shooting of the reality show Tropika Island of Treasure which premiered shortly after her death

Reeva Steenkamp poses on set during the shooting of the reality show Tropika Island of Treasure which premiered shortly after her death

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline on the eve of the 10th anniversary of their daughter¿s death, Barry and June Steenkamp say they want Pistorius to remain behind bars for the rest of his life

Pictures shared by Reeva’s family with MailOnline show a bubbly and happy young woman

Reeva was a contestant on Tropika Island of Treasure 5, a reality show which was filmed shortly before her death and was still aired in 2013.

The show was filmed on a tropical island and put seven celebrities and seven other players against one another to win 1m rand (£72,600).

During each episode they play a game, the winner of which was able to kick off one of the other contestants.

For the show, she was asked to describe herself in three words. ‘Brainy, blonde, bombshell,’ she said.

Devoted Christian 

Reeva Steenkamp with her father Barry Steenkamp at her Christening

Reeva Steenkamp with her father Barry Steenkamp at her Christening

In Reeva’s Twitter bio, she described herself as a ‘Child of God.’ 

Two weeks before her death, she posted a message addressed to God saying, ‘I need you. Every day, every moment, every second that I breathe, I need you. I am not strong enough on my own. Amen.’ 

Social media fanatic 

Sociable Reeva posted pictures of her friends and boyfriend Oscar across her Instagram.

A self-described Instagram fanatic, the model shared glimpses into her fun-filled life and of quotes that were meaningful to her.

She also regularly posted on Twitter, and tragically her final Tweet read ‘What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow??? #getexcited #ValentinesDay.’

A self-described Instagram fanatic, the model shared glimpses into her fun-filled life and of quotes that were meaningful to her

A self-described Instagram fanatic, the model shared glimpses into her fun-filled life and of quotes that were meaningful to her 

Sociable Reeva posted pictures of her friends and boyfriend Oscar across her Instagram page

Sociable Reeva posted pictures of her friends and boyfriend Oscar across her Instagram page

Her murder 

Steenkamp had been dating Pistorius since November 2012 and in February 2013 the couple were living together at his home in Pretoria.

On Valentine’s Day, Pistorius fired four shots through the door of a locked bathroom which Reeva was inside, three of which struck her.

Immediately after he proceeded to break down the door with a cricket bat to reach her and attempted to call for help. 

The South African athlete, nicknamed Blade Runner after his racing prosthetics, had been a widely-celebrated Paralympian prior to the killing

The South African athlete, nicknamed Blade Runner after his racing prosthetics, had been a widely-celebrated Paralympian prior to the killing

On Valentine's Day, Pistorius fired four shots through the door of a locked bathroom at his home in Pretoria. Reeva was on the other side

On Valentine’s Day, Pistorius fired four shots through the door of a locked bathroom at his home in Pretoria. Reeva was on the other side

He claims he shot 29-year-old Ms Steenkamp by mistake with his licensed pistol because he thought she was a dangerous intruder.

He was eventually found guilty of murder and sentenced to 13 years and five months, which he may not see out depending on what is decided at tomorrow’s parole hearing.

Ms Steenkamp’s parents, who oppose the idea of their daughter’s killer’s release, have no power to block it as criminals are automatically eligible for parole after serving half of their sentence.

Pistorius could leave Atteridgeville Correctional Centre in Pretoria on Friday if his parole is granted, although the Department of Corrections said the process may take days to finalise if his application is successful.

Oscar Pistorius holds his head in his hands during the hearing of his murder trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, on March 13, 2014

Oscar Pistorius holds his head in his hands during the hearing of his murder trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, on March 13, 2014

In June last year Pistorius agreed to meet the Steenkamps in prison, as part of South Africa's victim-offender dialogue programme.

In June last year Pistorius agreed to meet the Steenkamps in prison, as part of South Africa’s victim-offender dialogue programme.

Ms Steenkamp’s parents have said they oppose Pistorius’s release and are allowed to address the parole board at his hearing. A submission by a victim’s relatives is one of numerous factors taken into account.

‘He is a murderer. He should remain in jail,’ Mr Steenkamp said in an interview published last month on the 10th anniversary of his daughter’s killing.

Reeva’s story was told by her parents in Channel 4 documentary, My Name Is Reeva, which saw her parents reflect on her life which was so cruelly cut short.

Barry and June spread their daughter’s ashes on a beach, which they visit regularly.

As they threw roses into the sea for their lost daughter, June said: ‘I know she is resting in peace now. She is definitely resting in peace, I know that.’ 

‘We’ll never forget the two chilling phone calls’: Reeva’s heartbroken parents on the moment ‘that changed their lives forever’  

Barry and June Steenkamp will never forget two chilling phone calls on Thursday February 14, 2013, which came in quick succession and were to change their lives forever.

The first was from a police officer who told Mrs Steenkamp, coldly, that her daughter Reeva was dead, that Oscar Pistorius had shot her and police had detained him and the gun used in the slaying.

In shock she then called Reeva’s father who was driving and told him to come home immediately as Reeva had died.

He believed she may have said one of their pet dogs, but as he negotiated a U-turn in his truck, it dawned on him that his wife had mentioned Reeva and he drove back in shock and in tears.

What then followed was several years of seeing their daughter’s image flashed across the world as the victim of four bullets fired through a toilet door by the athlete known, affectionately until then, as the Blade Runner and global sporting icon.

He had won fame for his spirit in competing on the track at both the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics and winning gold.

Barry Steenkamp (left), who suffers poor health, was prepared to see Pistorius and hear 'what he had to say.' June (right), 76, decided not to attend. Instead wrote a letter which she gave to her husband to be read to Pistorius.

Barry Steenkamp (left), who suffers poor health, was prepared to see Pistorius and hear ‘what he had to say.’ June (right), 76, decided not to attend. Instead wrote a letter which she gave to her husband to be read to Pistorius.

On returning to Pretoria he met Reeva and they began dating . . .the South African star runner and one of the country’s top models.

Her parents sensed Reeva was seeing somebody when for the first time since leaving home on the Eastern Cape for Pretoria, she told them she wasn’t coming home for Christmas.

But her parents later discovered she had spent Christmas alone as Pistorius took leave to spend the day with an ex-girlfriend.

Mrs Steenkamp also sensed things were not going as smoothly as they might between Reeva and Pistorius as we were told her repeatedly that they were arguing and fighting.

The grieving mother believed this was because Pistorius was a jealous man, possessive and mentally unstable.

She told MailOnline that she believed her daughter was shot dead deliberately because on that eve of Valentine’s Day, Reeva had told Pistorius their brief relationship was over and she was trying to leave his apartment when he attacked and shot her dead as she took refuge in his toilet.

At first the South African courts appeared to accept his pleas of ignorance about who was behind his toilet door and that he believed Reeva was blissfully asleep in his bed unaware of the alleged intruder.

He was found guilty of culpable homicide and given a six year jail term in October 2014.

But prosecutors appealed the manslaughter finding and secured a murder conviction. In September 2017 South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal more than doubled his sentence to 13 years and five months’ imprisonment.

Pistorius and the reality show star and model had only been dating for around eight weeks when he took Reeva’s life, claiming he thought he was defending himself and his girlfriend from an intruder.

But Pistorius was revealed to have been a gun fanatic who once fired a gun in in a restaurant while diners were at nearby tables and had 10 weapons, including an AK-47.

Stories of his terrible temper were revealed including one where he attacked a woman at a party after she rebuffed his overtures and talk of his star status.

The Steenkamps, deeply religious, prayed that he would be sent away for a long time and unable to harm any more women.

Now that the day he walks free is close and for them, they said , it had come too soon.

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