South African police said yesterday they have charged Olympic sprint star Oscar ‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius with the Valentine’s Day murder of his model girlfriend, playing down reports she was mistaken for a burglar.
“I can confirm that a suspect has been charged, he has been charged with murder,” said lieutenant colonel Katlego Mogale after the shooting at Pistorius’s home in Pretoria.
Police and Pistorius’ family confirmed that there was only one suspect in the case and that the athlete had been taken into custody, with police saying they will oppose bail.
The 26-year-old, a national icon who made history when he became the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympics last year, was expected to appear in court shortly charged with the killing of 30-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp.
“He is with the police and the matter is in the hands of the authorities,” his father Henke Pistorius told AFP.
“Obviously we are shocked. Our thoughts are with the family of the woman involved in this tragedy,” he said. Police said the deceased, identified by friends as Steenkamp, was shot four times and died at the scene.
She was described by Sarit Tomlins of her management agency as “the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on earth.” Police expressed their surprise at media reports that the shooter had mistaken the FHM cover girl as an intruder and said that Pistorius has had previous run-ins with the authorities.
Burglar talk downplayed
“We were surprised by allegations that the deceased had been perceived to be a burglar,” said police spokeswoman Denise Beukes. “The premises are fairly secure... This is a fairly secure estate. There’s previously been incidents of allegations of domestic disputes at the home of the accused.”
Beukes said they were talking to neighbours who “heard things” earlier in the evening.