Pistorius claims he shot girlfriend after mistaking her for a burglar

Oscar Pistorius awaits the start of court proceedings while his brother Carl (left) looks on. photograph: siphiwe sibeko/reuters

Oscar Pistorius awaits the start of court proceedings while his brother Carl (left) looks on. photograph: siphiwe sibeko/reuters

Wed, Feb 20, 2013, 00:00

A fearful Oscar Pistorius mistook his model girlfriend for a burglar in his bathroom, and fired four shots through its door from a distance, according to an affidavit he prepared for his bail application yesterday.

During a highly emotional hearing at the Pretoria Magistrate’s court, Mr Pistorius said in the statement read out by his lawyer he failed to understand how he could be charged with Reeva Steenkamp’s murder, “as I did not intend to kill my girlfriend”.

“I deny that I committed murder in the strongest point. Even though I don’t have to, I want to deal with these allegations . . . Reeva had bought me a present for Valentine’s Day. We were deeply in love,” his statement read.


Ms Steenkamp (29) a celebrity in her own right, was found dead at the Paralympian’s home in the early hours of St Valentine’s morning. Her lover was taken into custody shortly after police arrived at the house, and he has since been charged with her murder.

Speculation has been rife regarding the circumstances surrounding the shooting. But yesterday the different takes on what happened in the early hours of February 14th were finally revealed before a packed courthouse.

Recounting Mr Pistorius’s version of events, advocate Barry Roux described how the couple went to bed at about 10pm, where Mr Pistorius watched television and Ms Steenkamp did yoga.

“I’m acutely aware of people gaining entries to homes to commit crime, I’ve received death threats. I sleep with my 9mm under my bed. I woke up to close the sliding door and heard a noise in the bathroom,” his statement read.

“I was scared and didn’t switch on the light. I got my gun and moved towards the bathroom. I screamed at the intruder. Because I did not have my legs on I felt vulnerable. I fired shots through the bathroom door and told Reeva to call the police. I walked back to the bed and realised Reeva was not in bed. Then it dawned on me it could be her in there,” he said.

When Mr Pistorius (26) realised his lover was not in his bed, he rushed to put on his prosthetic legs and then used a cricket bat to break down the bathroom door.

“Reeva was alive. I called Netcare [ambulance service], picked her up and went downstairs. I tried to revive Reeva but she died in my arms. I am mortified. I trust the South African legal system and the facts will show that I did not murder Reeva,” he concluded.

Mr Pistorius, a double amputee who runs on carbon fibre blades, sobbed uncontrollably as his affidavit, marked Exhibit A, was produced and read to the court. At one point he was comforted by his brother, Carl, who placed a hand on his back.

‘Cold-blooded killer’

Earlier in the hearing state prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who is opposing the bail application, revealed why the authorities believe Mr Pistorius is a cold-blooded killer. He got out of bed, put on his prostheses and shot his girlfriend through the bathroom door, they believe.

“He prepared. He armed himself. The motive was, he wanted to kill. He fired four shots. Three hit Steenkamp. It is those cold facts that make this a pre-meditated murder,” Mr Nel alleged.

At the beginning of the hearing Magistrate Desmond Nair ruled that Mr Pistorius was facing a schedule six offence, which means he needs to prove exceptional circumstances if he is to get bail.

After hearing both arguments Magistrate Nair remanded the accused back in custody and postponed the remainder of the hearing to today.