Oscar Pistorius 'numb with shock'
Pistorius pictured on the track in September 2012. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire.
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius is “numb with shock, as well as grief” after the shooting death of his model girlfriend at his home in South Africa, the runner’s uncle said today, as his family “strongly refutes” that he planned to kill her.
Arnold Pistorius spoke to reporters about his nephew’s arrest for the killing of Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot four times on the morning of Valentine’s Day, from his three-storey home in the eastern suburbs of South Africa’s capital, Pretoria.
The statement, the first on camera and directly made in person by Pistorius’ family, also came out strongly against prosecutors seeking to upgrade the charge against Pistorius to one of premeditated murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison.
“After consulting with legal representatives, we deeply regret the allegation of premeditated murder,” Arnold Pistorius said. “We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation and that the state’s own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder.”
The track star’s arrest for the killing of 29-year-old Steenkamp shocked South Africa, where Pistorius was a national hero dubbed the Blade Runner for his high-tech prosthetics and revered for overcoming his disability to compete in the London Games.
She was discovered in a pool of blood before dawn Thursday by police called to Pistorius’ upmarket home in a gated community in Pretoria.
Authorities said she had been shot four times, and a 9mm pistol was recovered at the home.
Pistorius remains at a police station pending a bail hearing Tuesday.
Arnold Pistorius did not discuss the circumstances of the shooting, but said that his nephew and Ms Steenkamp had become very close since they started dating in November.
“They had plans together and Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time,” his uncle said.
South Africa’s national broadcaster SABC says it will screen the Tropika Island of Treasure reality TV show featuring Reeva Steenkamp.
The show’s executive producer, Samantha Moon, said Ms Steenkamp’s family wants the show to go ahead. Ms Moon said that the family “wants it on. This is how they want
to remember her”.
Reeva’s cousin, Sharon Steenkamp, said the family had not been consulted by anyone from the show or SABC, but they were not against it being aired because Reeva “was proud of being in the show”.
“Her last words to us personally was that she wants us to watch it,” Sharon Steenkamp said.
A Steenkamp family spokesman said relatives still faced a long struggle to come to terms with her killing.
“I can’t see the family getting over this shortly,” Reeva’s uncle, Mike Steenkamp said. “It’s going to be a long, long-term reconciliation with a lot of things and issues.”
Mike Steenkamp said there would be a memorial service for Reeva in her home town of Port Elizabeth, on South Africa’s southern coast.
“Reeva’s casket is being brought to PE (Port Elizabeth),” he said.