The South African star sprinter Oscar Pistorius has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend and will appear in a Pretoria court on Friday, police have confirmed.
Pistorius, 26, is alleged to have killed his 30-year-old girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who died of gunshot wounds at his home in a gated community in the city on Thursday morning.
The police spokeswoman Denise Beukes said earlier reports that the suspect had been surprised by his girlfriend and had thought she was an intruder did not come from police.
She said there had been reports from neighbours of shouting and screaming coming from the house earlier in the evening. She said police had been called to the house on previous occasions after reports of “a domestic nature”.
Pistorius had been due to appear in court today, but at lunchtime officials announced his appearance had been postponed until Friday at Pretoria magistrates court.
Police sources suggested that Pistorius himself had requested that he appear in court as soon as possible today, but that the facilities might not be equipped for people with disabilities.
Police deny that they are giving him special treatment.
A spokeswoman had earlier said Pistorius was being “treated like any other normal person”.
“He will be bringing a bail application and we will be opposing bail,” she said, adding that there were no other suspects in the case.
Police said they had opened a murder investigation after a 30-year-old woman was found dead in the upmarket Silver Lakes community on the outskirts of the capital, where the Paralympic and Olympic runner lives. It is believed she was shot four times.
“We found a 9mm pistol at the scene. A 26-year-old man was taken into custody,” a police spokeswoman said.
There was speculation in the local media that Pistorius may have mistaken his girlfriend for a burglar and the shooting could have been a result of a Valentine’s Day surprise gone wrong.
A police spokeswoman, Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale, told the Associated Press that officers received a call in the early hours of the morning that there had been a shooting. When police arrived they found paramedics trying to revive the woman, who had been shot and died at the scene, he said.
There was a large police presence outside Pistorius’s house and media descended on the estate.. Earlier, a police spokesman had described the sprinter as being distraught. “We can’t comment on his emotional wellbeing, but he is traumatised after losing someone close to him,” he said.
Steenkamp, a well-known South African model, had been dating Pistorius since November and was due to appear in a reality TV show called Tropika Island of Treasure. The law graduate from Port Elizabeth gave an interview to the Sunday Times in South Africa last week in which she described her boyfriend as “an impeccable man who always has her best interests at heart”.
In the last 24 hours she was tweeting about her hopes for Valentine’s Day, writing: “What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow??? #getexcited #ValentinesDay”. In one of her last tweets she responded to one follower who said she was going to make her husband a card with her children. Steenkamp wrote: “That sounds amazing! Wow that’s what it’s all about! It should be a day of love for everyone may it be blessed!”
Steenkamp’s publicist Sarit Tomlinson told Sky News that she was a “talented, bright young girl” whose star was rising. “She was the sweetest human being and an absolute angel on Earth,” she said. “She was the kindest, most unbelievable girl.” She said Steenkamp and Pistorius had been together for a couple of months in “a healthy fabulous relationship”.
On Steenkamp’s Facebook page – where she described herself as “SA Model, FHM Cover Girl, Tropika Island of Treasure Celeb Contestant, Law Graduate, Ambassador” – tributes poured in. Sibi Tshego Sibanda wrote: “Heaven has gained an Angel. Rest in peace,” and Elmarie Hattingh wrote: “Rest in Peace Reeva, May God be with the family and friends.”
Pistorius is revered and well-liked by many athletes, and a number of British track and field stars reacted with shock to the news. The Olympic heptathlon champion, Jessica Ennis, tweeted: “Woken up to the horrendous news about Oscar Pistorius mistakenly shooting his girlfriend. What an awful tragedy.”
Iwan Thomas, Britain’s former No 1 400m sprinter, wrote: “I am in total shock to hear the news about athlete and friend Oscar, my thoughts are with him and all involved. That’s all I have to say.”
British triple-jumper Phillips Idowu said: “Waking up to extremely sad news about Oscar Pistorius mistakenly shooting his girlfriend. Terrible tragedy, thoughts & prayers with you.”
Britain’s Paralympic 100m gold medallist, Jonnie Peacock, who before the Paralympics called Pistorius “one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met”, did not mention the South African by name but in a short Twitter message wrote: “can not believe it….”
The Paralympic cyclist Jody Cundy wrote on Twitter: “Thoughts out to the familys of Reeva Steenkamp and OscarPistorius sad and tragic news.”
The British Paralympic Association said in a statement: “The BPA has heard this morning of the tragedy in South Africa today involving Paralympian Oscar Pistorius. We send our condolences to all involved. As it is a police matter, we will not comment further at this time.”
South Africa’s Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee said in a statement that it had been inundated with requests for comment but was not in a position to give out any details of the shooting.
“SASCOC, like the rest of the public, knows no more than what is in the public domain, which is there has been an alleged fatal shooting on the basis of a mistaken identity and an apparent assumption of a burglary.
“The organisation is in no position to comment on the incident other than to say our deepest sympathy and condolences have been expressed to the families of all concerned.”
South Africa has some of the world’s highest rates of violent crime and some homeowners carry weapons to defend themselves against intruders.
There were indications that Pistorius had fears about his safety. In an interview with the Daily Mail before the London 2012 Games it was revealed he slept with a pistol next to his bed and kept a machine gun by a window.
Pistorius, known as Blade Runner because of the carbon fibre prosthetic blades he wears to race, is the world’s best-known Paralympic star. He was born without fibulas in both legs and had his legs amputated as an 11-month-old. He made history at London 2012 when he became the first double amputee to run in both the Olympics and Paralympics, running in the 400m and 4x400m relay at the Olympics. During and after the competition he regularly tweeted pictures of him and his girlfriend together.
The Johannesburg-born athlete won a legal battle over his blades with the International Association of Athletics Federations in 2008 for the right to compete in able-bodied competition.
Taken from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/feb/14/oscar-pistorius-girlfriend-shot-dead