February 14, 2013
S. African Olympic Runner Charged with Murder
South African running star Oscar Pistorius -- the first double-amputee to run at the Olympics -- will appear in court Friday on murder charges after a woman was shot dead at his residence. Peter Cox reports from Johannesburg on new details in the case.
Olympic and Paralympic athlete Pistorius, 26, was taken into custody early Thursday for allegedly shooting and killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria.
Confirming the shooting, police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale said a murder case has been opened.
"In the early hours of this morning, police were called to an incident of shooting at Oscar Pistorius' house. When they arrived they found a 30-year-old woman being attended to by paramedics, who then declared her dead on the scene," he announced. "Further investigation in the house resolved a 9-millimeter firearm and a 26-year-old man has been taken into custody."
National police spokeswoman Denise Beukes told reporters there was no sign of forced entry at Pistorius' home in Pretoria.
"The only two people on the premises were the resident and the deceased," she said, "and again the number of shots fired are part of the ongoing investigation."
Pistorius was originally to appear in court Thursday afternoon. The appearance has now been postponed until Friday.
"The reason he did not appear today as it was planned, is because the police have been busy with the preliminary investigations," explained South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Medupe Simasiku. "The preliminary forensic investigations, your blood test and stuff. Those are the things they need to do as soon as possible."
Simasiku added that Pistorius would be held overnight.
Before the murder
Police confirm reports that neighbors heard yelling and shouting at the running star's home at the time of the shooting. Police spokeswoman Beukes told reporters there have been calls to Pistorius' home before.
"I can't confirm whether it's related to the person who has been arrested, but I can confirm that there have previously been incidents at the home of Mr. Oscar Pistorius," Beukes said.
The victim is believed to be Pretorius’ girlfriend, former model Reeva Steenkamp, 30. Steenkamp's public relations agency, Capacity Relations, confirmed she has died.
Jane Celliers, the director of Steenkamp’s modeling agency, said Steenkamp was a vivacious and successful model -- and an accomplished law student. She had worked for the agency for seven years.
Celliers said Pistorius and Steenkamp started dating at the end of last year and that Steenkamp had been happy with Pistorius.
“We do not know what has happened and what has gone down at this time. We are just incredibly devastated, as you can imagine," she admitted. "And are waiting every half an hour. When the news comes on and are listening with bated breath to hear what is going on.”
Pistorius was born without fibula bones and his legs were amputated below the knee when he was just 11 months old. He inspired millions by becoming a world class runner using high-tech prosthetics made out of a carbon-fiber compound. The prosthetics won him a nickname -- the "blade runner" -- and his performance earned him a spot on South Africa's track-and-field squad at last year's Olympics in London.
The news that one of the country's most well-known athletes has been involved in a shooting is leaving many South Africans stunned, including Lizelle Van Huyssteen of Johannesburg.
"I was just so shocked and dismayed and my first feeling was that it was very tragic and I feel sorry for the guy, if that's what happened," Van Huyssteen said.
As many here speculate on what may have happened at Pistorius' residence, they all can agree that the situation is tragic.