The tragic deaths of their daughters has resulted in an unlikely friendship between Barry and June Steenkamp and the father of a Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University student who was murdered.
Yesterday, Freddie Sithole, 46, of Soshanguve in Pretoria, told the Herald newspaper in Port Elizabeth of the assistance he has received from the Steenkamp family while he is visiting the city.
“They are compassionate, warm and loving people and they have opened their hearts to me. When we met it was as if we had always known each other. There was an immediate bond which I know will continue long after both our cases have been finalised,” said Sithole.
Sithole said the Steenkamps have arranged accommodation, meals and transport while he is in the city for two weeks to attend the trial of Mutshutshu Muvhango, 31, who is accused of murdering his daughter, Tshepiso, 18.
Muvhango, who was Tshepiso’s former teacher and secret lover, has pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against him.
He is accused of murdering Tshepiso, who was a first year civil engineering student, in a jealous rage. She was found dead in the room of her Summerstrand student residence on Sunday June 26 2011.
Gauteng ANC Women’s League spokesperson, Jacqui Mofokeng, said Sithole requested assistance from the organisation as he is unemployed.
Mofokeng, who attended the Oscar Pistorius trial to show support for June and Barry Steenkamp, requested assistance from their lawyer, Tania Koen. “I called Tania and she then communicated Mr Sithole’s situation to June. I am so grateful that they were able to assist him and for everything they have done. June called me and said she and Barry would take care of everything.”
Koen confirmed the Steenkamps were helping Mofokeng. Koen said: “June is committed to starting a foundation in Reeva’s name to assist victims and their families who have suffered abuse. Mr Sithole is the first testimony of Reeva’s legacy. There is no support structure for people like him who have lost the ones they love. Not just financial support but for emotional support”.
Sithole said while spending time with the Steenkamps this week, he realised how close Reeva had been with her father, Barry.
“I was just as close with Tshepiso and we communicated on a daily basis.”
Sithole lovingly carries a file with all his daughter’s accomplishments and academic certificates, including a Father’s Day card she made him in 2004 when she was 12 which reads: “Please keep this card, save it for in case I am not around. You will keep remembering my words with this card”.
“She was very similar to Reeva because when she was 12 she made a speech at the Justice College about standing united against women and child abuse..”
Meanwhile, Muvhango is still testifying at his trial at the Port Elizabeth High Court. The trial is set to continue until next Friday.