16 Feb 2013

Pistorius charged with murdering girlfriend

6:29 am on 16 February 2013

South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend at his home.

Mr Pistorius was arrested over the death of model Reeva Steenkamp at the property in the Silverlakes estate on the outskirts of Pretoria on Thursday.

The 26-year-old held his head in his hands and was in tears as the murder charge was formally read out in the magistrates' court on Friday.

Mr Pistorius, a double amputee, spent the night in a police station and arrived at court in the back of a police vehicle, hiding his face with a jacket and a notepad.

Chief magistrate Desmond Nair postponed the bail hearing until 19 February and ordered that Mr Pistorius remain in police custody until then.

Prosecutors told the court they will argue that international sports star committed premeditated murder when he shot Ms Steenkamp dead at his luxury home.

Members of his family, including his sister, brother and father Henke, were in the courtroom on Friday, the BBC reports.

After the hearing his family and management company released a statement rejecting the murder charge. "The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms", the statement said.

Police were called to Pistorius' home in the upmarket gated compound in South Africa's administrative capital in the early hours of Thursday morning.

They found paramedics treating a 29-year-old South African woman with four gunshot wounds to the head and upper body. She died at the scene, and officers recovered a 9mm pistol.

Early reports suggested that Mr Pistorius might have mistaken his girlfriend, who he had reportedly been dating since November last year, for an intruder.

However, police say neighbours heard screaming and shouting about the time of the shooting, and that they had been called to investigate incidents of a domestic nature at the same house in the past.

CNN reports the family of Reeva Steenkamp say her life has been cut short far too soon. Her uncle, Mike Steenkamp, told reporters they are deeply shocked.

"Her whole life, what she could achieve, never came to fulfilment and I just say that she's with the angels."


Oscar Pistorius was born without a fibula in both legs and had his legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday and is known as the "blade runner" because of the carbon fibre prosthetic blades he wears for racing.

In 2008, he won a key legal battle when athletics' governing body, the IAAF, allowed him to compete against able-bodied athletes.

He made history in London 2012 by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete in the Olympics, reaching the 400m semi-finals.

At the Paralympics in 2012 he won silver in the T44 200m, gold in the 4x100 relay and gold in the T44 400m, setting a Paralympic record.

The arrest has stunned South Africa where he is considered a national hero.