Oscar Pistorius (R) is escorted by police after an incident
in which his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, was shot
dead at his upscale Pretoria home. Photos: Reuters
Not long after South African "Blade Runner" Oscar
Pistorius was charged with shooting dead his girlfriend at his
upscale home in Pretoria, reports of previous domestic disputes
between the couple surfaced.
Police said they opened a murder case after a 30-year-old
woman was found dead at the Paralympic and Olympic star's
house in the Silverlakes gated complex on the capital's
Pistorius (26) and his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp,
were the only people in the house at the time of the
shooting, police brigadier Denise Beukes told reporters,
adding witnesses had been interviewed about the early morning
"We are talking about neighbours and people that heard things
earlier in the evening and when the shooting took place,"
Beukes said outside the heavily guarded residential complex.
Police said a 9mm pistol had been found at the scene.
Beukes said police were aware of previous incidents at the
Pistorius house. "I can confirm that there has previously
been incidents at the home of Mr Oscar Pistorious, of
allegations of a domestic nature," she said.
Britain's Guardian reported that neighbours heard "screaming
and shouting" around the time of the shooting.
Pistorius, a double amputee who uses carbon fibre prosthetic
blades to run, is due to appear in a Pretoria court on
"He is doing well but very emotional," his lawyer Kenny
Oldwage told SABC TV, but gave no further comment.
In 2009 Pistorius was arrested and spent the night at a
police station after a 19-year-old woman accused him of
assault. No charges were brought due to lack of evidence.
Pistorius as the world knew him before the shooting.
A sports icon for triumphing over disability to compete
with able-bodied athletes at the Olympics, his sponsorship
deals, including one with sports apparel group Nike, are
thought to be worth $2 million a year.
South Africa's M-Net cable TV channel said it was pulling
adverts featuring Pistorius off air immediately after blanket
coverage of the arrest in a country more used to honouring
Pistorius as a national hero.
"WE ARE ALL DEVASTATED"
Steenkamp's colleagues in the modelling world were
distraught. "We are all devastated. Her family is in shock,"
her agent, Sarita Tomlinson, tearfully told Reuters. "They
did have a good relationship. Nobody actually knows what
Pistorius, who was born without a fibula in both legs, was
the first double amputee to run in the Olympics and reached
the 400-metre semi-finals in London 2012.
In last year's Paralympics he suffered his first loss over
200 metres in nine years. After the race he questioned the
legitimacy of Brazilian winner Alan Oliveira's prosthetic
blades, though he was quick to express regret for the
South Africa has some of the world's highest rates of violent
crime, and many home owners have weapons to defend themselves
against intruders, although Pistorius's complex is surrounded
by a three-metre high wall and electric fence.
Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp pose for a picture at a
function in Johannesburg earlier this month.
In 2004, Springbok rugby player Rudi Visagie shot dead
his 19-year-old daughter after he mistakenly thought she was a
robber trying to steal his car in the middle of the night.
Before the murder charge was announced, Johannesburg's Talk
Radio 702 said the athlete may have mistaken Steenkamp for a
Pistorius was arrested in 2009 for assault after slamming a
door on a woman and spent a night in police custody. Family
and friends said it was just an accident and charges were
OLYMPIAN UNDERGOES POLICE TESTS
Steenkamp, a regular on the South African social scene, was
reported to have been dating Pistorius for several months.
In the social pages of last weekend's Sunday Independent she
described him as having "impeccable" taste. "His gifts are
always thoughtful," she was quoted as saying.
Some of her last Twitter postings indicated she was looking
forward to Valentine's Day on Thursday. "What do you have up
your sleeve for your love tomorrow???" she posted.
Pistorius was on Thursday being processed through the police
system. "At this stage he is on his way to a district surgeon
for medical examination," the police brigadier said.
"When a person has been accused of a crime like murder they
look at things like testing under the finger nails, taking a
blood alcohol sample and all kinds of other test that are
done. They are standard medical tests," Beukes said.
Pistorius is also sponsored by British telecoms firm BT ,
sunglasses maker Oakley and French designer Thierry Mugler.
"We are shocked by this terrible, tragic news. We await the
outcome of the South African police investigation," a BT
spokeswoman said before Pistorius was charged.
A Nike spokesman in London said before hearing of the murder
charge that the company was "saddened by the news, but we
have no further comment to make at this stage".
Pistorius also has a sponsorship deal with Icelandic
prosthetics manufacturer Ossur.
"I can only say that our thoughts and prayers are with Oscar
and the families involved in the tragedy," Ossur CEO Jon
Sigurdsson told Reuters. "It is completely premature to
discuss or speculate on our business relationship with him."
Neighbours expressed shock at the arrest of a "good guy".
"It is difficult to imagine an intruder entering this
community, but we live in a country where intruders can get
in wherever they want to," said one Silverlakes resident, who
did not want to be named.
"Oscar is a good guy, an upstanding neighbour, and if he is
innocent I feel for this guy deeply," he said.