After the long-awaited decision was finally delivered, the only man in the courtroom who did not seem seized by the moment was Oscar Pistorius himself.
His family members and friends were more than happy, leaping to their feet, punched the air and shouting “Yes!”, while representatives of mass media were intensively sharing the news on Twitter.
However, Pistorius remained utterly isolated, plunged into a seemingly bottomless pit of despair, The Telegraph reports. It seemed like no emotions were on the face of the Paralympic star, who had spent most of the day with jaw clenched, swallowing hard or sobbing softly.
“I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail,” magistrate Desmond Nair said at the end of a near two-hour hearing, praising Pistorius for having offered a detailed affidavit which “reached out to meet the state’s case”.
The bail was at 1m rand (£73,000) and put off the case until 4 June, leaving the 26-year-old’s life and career in an agonising limbo.
According to the court’s decision, the star now has to report to a police station twice a week – Monday and Friday – surrender his passports and firearms, refrain from drinking alcohol and stay away from all airports.
He is also banned to get closer to the home in Pretoria, where Miss Steenkamp died in the early hours of St Valentine’s Day.
After the decision was announced, Carl Pistorius, Oscar’s brother, said the sportsman was “relieved”, but added: “It’s a long road ahead.”
His lawyer, Kenny Oldwage, said that after his release from custody, Pistorius “will be in a residence we’ve provided in Pretoria”. The star’s coach, Ampie Louw, later revealed that he is thinking about putting the athlete back in training “to get his mind clear”.
Kim Myers, a friend of Miss Steenkamp, said she was reserving judgment until the trial itself. “We trust and hope that justice will prevail,” she said.
“People must remember that someone has lost her life here and we are just very sad about that.”
The decision was carried out after four days of highly-charged hearings at Pretoria magistrates’ court, during which the athlete repeatedly broke down.
He assured that court that he shot Miss Steenkamp, 29, by mistake, after waking in the dark room, and supposing that an intruder was locked in the lavatory.
He fired several shots through the locked door, believing that the young woman was still sleeping in their bed. Only when she didn’t answer his cries to call the police did Pistorius realise what he had done.
A spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority revealed that they were confident their case would stand up to scrutiny at a full trial.
Pistorius’ uncle later said they were “grateful” to the magistrate: “We are also grateful for our legal team that has delivered extremely professional and legal statements that led to the decision of giving bail today.”
“As the family, we know Oscar’s version of what happened that tragic night and we know that that is the truth and that will prevail in the coming court case.”