Pistorius accused of girlfriend's murder

South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp attend the Feather Awards in Johannesburg last November. Photograph: Lucky Nxumalo/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images

South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp attend the Feather Awards in Johannesburg last November. Photograph: Lucky Nxumalo/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Thu, Feb 14, 2013, 00:00

South African Olympic and Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius will appear in court tomorrow charged with murdering his girlfriend at his home in Pretoria.

Pistorius (26), is alleged to have killed his 30-year-old girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who died of gunshot wounds at the property in the Silver Lakes Golf Estate in Boschkop this morning. Steenkamp reportedly sustained wounds to her head and the upper body. A 9mm pistol was recovered at the scene.

Local media had reported Pistorius may have  mistaken her for an intruder. But police said the incident was being treated as a murder investigation, adding that there had been previous incidents at the address involving “allegations of a domestic nature”.

Brigadier Denise Beukes said there had been previous incidents at the athlete’s home.  “I can’t confirm that it’s related to the person that’s arrested but I can confirm there has previously been incidents at the home of Mr Oscar Pistorius.”

She said there were no signs of forced entry at the address.

Asked about speculation the victim may have been mistaken for a burglar, she said: “The South African Police Service were just as surprised this morning to hear over the radio that allegations had been made that the deceased had been perceived to be a burglar. We were very surprised and those allegations did not come from us.”

The officer said Pistorius was co-operating with police.

Earlier, police spokeswoman Lieut Col Katlego Mogale, told Press Association Sport that Pistorius (26) would be be appearing in Pretoria State Court this afternoon. She later said his court appearance had been delayed until tomorrow after the State Attorney asked for more time to look at the case. He will be held in custody at Boschkop police station over night. Police will object to bail during tomorrow's court appearance.

Pistorius is one of the world’s best known Paralympic and Olympic stars because of his successes on the athletic track with the carbon fibre prosthetic blades he uses to race.  He has won numerous Paralympic medals, but made history last summer at the London Olympics when he represented South Africa in the 400m and the 4x400m relay. He was the first double amputee to compete in the able-bodied competition.

The Johannesburg-born athlete, who was born without fibulas in his legs and had the limbs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old, had to win a legal battle over his blades with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in 2008 for the right to compete in able-bodied competition.

Steenkamp was a top model who had said on her Twitter account she was looking forward to Valentine’s Day. In her own words on her Twitter biography, she describes herself as the following: “SA model, cover girl, Tropika Island of Treasure Celeb Contestant, law graduate, Child of God.”

She was active on the social media platform yesterday, expressing excitement for Valentine’s Day and saying: “What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow??? #getexcited #ValentinesDay”.

On February 1st she tweeted to Pistorius telling him he was “beautiful”. She wrote: “He certainly doesn’t need more followers but he’s beautiful to look at & says some smart stuff too ;)”

This weekend, Steenkamp was set to star in South African reality television series Tropika Island Of Treasure, in which celebrities and ordinary people compete in remote, exotic locations in a variety of daily challenges.

On the show’s website, a tribute to Steenkamp says: “We are deeply saddened and extend our condolences to Reeva’s family and friends.”

The website also carries a profile of the star, describing her as someone who “prefers to read a book on her off days”.

It says Steenkamp was born in Cape Town and moved to Port Elizabeth as a child where she continued her studies and graduated with a degree in law.

Named the first face of cosmetics giant Avon South Africa, according to the profile, she has since shot some of South Africa’s leading campaigns and commercials, and was working on some “major projects”.

Aditional reporting: Agencies