News / Africa

S. African Olympic Runner Charged with Murder

Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius leaves the Boschkop police station, east of Pretoria, South Africa, Feb. 14, 2013 en route to appear in court charged with murder.
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius leaves the Boschkop police station, east of Pretoria, South Africa, Feb. 14, 2013 en route to appear in court charged with murder.
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— 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.
 
Oscar Pistorius

  • Born without fibula bones
  • Legs amputated below the knee at 11 months
  • Ran with carbon fiber prosthetics that earned him nickname "Blade Runner"
  • In 2008, successfully appealed ban against competing in major competitions
  • Failed to qualify for Beijing Olympics
  • Won gold in 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters at 2008 Paralympics
  • In 2012, became first double-amputee to run in the Olympics
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."

Arraignment

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.

  • Olympic and Paralympic running star Oscar Pistorius stands during court proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrates court, August 19, 2013.
  • Oscar Pistorius cries as he prays with his sister Aimee and brother Carl in the magistrates court in Pretoria, South Africa, August 19, 2013.
  • A man holds signs ahead of the court proceedings of Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius at the Pretoria Magistrates court, August 19, 2013.
  • A woman holds a photo of Reeva Steenkamp as she leaves her funeral in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, February 19, 2013.
  • Oscar Pistorius weeps in court at his bail hearing in Pretoria, February 15, 2013.
  • Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg, November 4, 2012.
  • A newspaper vendor sets up his stall outside court ahead of Pistorius' court appearance in Pretoria, February 15, 2013.
  • Carl Pistorius, brother of Oscar, attends his brother's court appearance in Pretoria February 15, 2013.
  • This aerial image taken from video provided by VNS24/7 shows the home of Oscar Pistorius in a gated housing complex in Pretoria, South Africa, February 14, 2013.
  • Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius leaves the Boschkop police station, east of Pretoria, South Africa, February 14, 2013.
  • Oscar Pistorius celebrates winning the men's 400 meter final during the London 2012 Paralympic Games, September 8, 2012.
  • Pistorius celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men's 400m T44 classification during the London 2012 Paralympic Games, September 8, 2012.

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.”
 
Disability

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.

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