PARALYMPIC star Oscar Pistorius is due to appear in court today charged with the Valentines Day murder of his model girlfriend after she was shot dead at his home in South Africa early yesterday morning.
Pistorius – dubbed Blade Runner for his trademark prosthetic legs – was arrested at his luxury home in a gated compound in Pretoria, where Reeva Steenkamp died from four gunshot wounds at around 3am.
Local police distanced themselves from initial reports that Pistorius, who became the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics in London last year, had mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder.
A police spokesperson added that there was no evidence of forced entry or anyone other than the 26-year-old and Steenkamp, 30, having been present.
“A 26-year-old man has been arrested and has been charged with murder,” said Brigadier Denise Beukes. “The South African Police Service was surprised to hear allegations on the radio this morning that the deceased had been perceived to be a burglar. The allegations did not come from us.”
No other suspects had been identified, Brigadier Beukes said, adding that “allegations of a domestic nature” had previously been made at the same address.
“I can’t confirm that it’s related to the person who has been arrested, but I can confirm there has previously been incidents at the home of Mr Oscar Pistorius,” she said.
Police recovered a 9mm pistol from the scene and were yesterday continuing with forensic tests. More than four per cent of people own guns in South Africa, which has one of the highest crime rates in the world.
Pistorius, the most famous Paralympic athlete ever, has previously spoken of his enjoyment of target shooting and appeared in a Nike advertising campaign with the slogan: “I am a bullet in the chamber.”
Steenkamp, who is believed to have begun dating Pistorius in November, was shot in the head and upper body. Hours before her death she wrote on Twitter: “What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow? It should be a day of love for everyone.”
■ Born in Johannesburg on 22 November 1986 without fibulas in both legs, which are amputated below the knee at 11 months
■ Gains global recognition aged 17 by winning T44 200m gold at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens
■ Wins three golds at 2006 Paralympic World Championships, setting new world record over 200m
■ Begins competing against non-disabled athletes in 2007, and voices ambition to run at the Olympics
■ Banned from competing against non-disabled athletes in January 2008 by athletics world governing body the IAAF, but successfully overturns the verdict in May at the Court of Arbitration for Sport
■ Misses 2008 Olympics but claims Paralympic gold in T44 100m, 200m and 400m, setting a world record
■ Head injuries from a speedboat accident force him to miss 2009 IAAF World Championships
■ Suffers first 100m defeat in seven years at 2011 Paralympic World Championships but is selected for IAAF World Championships later that year, where he reaches 400m semi-finals and helps 4x400m relay team reach final, only to be dropped
■ Becomes first double amputee to compete at an Olympics, reaching the 400m semi-finals at London 2012
■ Wins two golds and one silver in the Paralympics, but is forced to apologise after criticising the length of rival Alan Oliveira’s blades in the wake of his shock 200m final defeat