Pistorius involved in nightclub altercation
Paralympian says he was aggressively interrogated by businessman who claims athlete was drunk
Oscar Pistorius, who is accused of the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year. Photograph: AP Photo/Alon Skuy, Pool
Oscar Pistorius has been involved in an altercation at a nightclub, days after his lawyers wound up their defence in his murder trial.
His spokeswoman, Anneliese Burgess, said the athlete was in a quiet booth in the VIP section of a club in Johannesburg’s upmarket Sandton district when a man “started to aggressively interrogate him on matters relating to the trial”.
“An argument ensued in which my client asked to be left alone. Oscar and his cousin left soon afterwards. Oscar regrets the decision to go to a public place and thereby invite unwelcome attention.”
Burgess said the individual concerned “has now been identified as a Mr Mortimer”. South Africa’s Star newspaper named him as businessman Jared Mortimer, who offered a different version of the events of Saturday night.
Mortimer said he reacted after Pistorius, who is free on bail, made disparaging comments about Mortimer’s friends and the family of president Jacob Zuma. “I took that personally because I am very good friends with a member of the Zuma family,” Mortimer was quoted as saying.
He added that Pistorius was drunk and started getting aggressive. “He was poking me and saying that I would never get the better of him. He was close to my face and at that point I pushed him to get him away from me – and he fell to the ground.”
The club, The VIP Room, was hosting an exclusive party called the Superhero Squad and many of the guests wore superhero costumes. Its website says it caters to the “nouveau riche” and invites guests to “slip on your diamante dancing shoes or designer suit and dance the night away.”
‘Blown out of proportion’
The club manager insisted “everything is being blown out of proportion”. Perry Mermigas told South Africa’s Times newspaper: “I was sitting with him [Pistorius] and his cousin at their table. They were there for an hour and there was definitely no ‘altercation’ as this person is making out.
“He was chilling with his cousin, nothing more and nothing less. If there was something, like what is being described, we would definitely have got involved. What I can say is that Oscar was at the club and left, like any other normal patron, after an hour.”
On Sunday, hours after the incident, Pistorius tweeted for the first time in five months, posting a Bible verse, a collage of pictures of his humanitarian work and an extract from Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning.
The 27-year-old is accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at his upmarket home in Pretoria last year. The double amputee known as the Blade Runner says he killed Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder hiding in the toilet next to his bedroom.
During the trial, which opened in early March, the prosecution argued Pistorius often lost his temper and killed Steenkamp during an argument. The case was adjourned until August 7th to allow the legal teams to prepare closing arguments.
– (Guardian service)