Olympian from South Africa Oscar Pistorius is currently in police custody at the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria, and his bail hearing will take place on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 — the same day that Steenkamp’s funeral will be held in her hometown of Port Elizabeth. The ceremony will be closed to the public and the media. Pistorius faces a life sentence if convicted of premeditated murder.
The City Press of South Africa has reported that South African police found a bloodied cricket bat Pistorius’ home – he has been charged with murdering Reeva Steenkamp, his model girlfriend.
The Olympic and Paralympic athlete was charged on Friday with the Valentine’s Day murder of 29-year-old Steenkamp, who was shot dead at his luxury Pretoria home.
South Africa’s independent City Press newspaper quoted police sources close to the investigation saying that the cricket bat had been found and that Steenkamp’s skull had been “crushed”.
“There was lots of blood on the bat,” one source said.
Police are investigating whether the bat was used to assault Steenkamp, who was shot four times in the early hours of Thursday, or if she may have used it to defend herself, the newspaper said.
“The suspicion is that the first shot, in the bedroom, hit her in the hip. She then ran and hid herself in the toilet… He fired three more shots,” a police source told City Press.
Authorities have rejected suggestions that Pistorius mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and on Sunday police spokesman Neville Malila refused to comment on the reports of the cricket bat.
“I dont know where they got it from, but they didn’t get it from any official source in the police,” Malila told AFP.
“We want to give the investigators an opportunity to investigate and we will make an official statement after the bail application.” The newspaper described the case against Pistorius as “rock-solid”.
Other reports suggested there had been a fight between the two lovers that had spilled over from Wednesday night, when neighbours called security guards complaining about a “commotion” inside the Pistorius home.
The British Sunday People said a sobbing Pistorius had phoned his friend, Justin Divaris, around 4am on Thursday, before phoning emergency services, telling him “My baba, I’ve killed my baba (baby in Afrikaans). God take me away.”
Pistorius is currently in police custody at the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria, and his bail hearing will take place on Tuesday, the same day that Steenkamp’s funeral will be held in her hometown of Port Elizabeth. The ceremony will be closed to the public and the media. Pistorius faces a life sentence if convicted of premeditated murder.
His father Henke Pistorius, 59, was quoted by Britain’s Sunday Telegraph as saying the family had “zero doubt” his son shot Steenkamp on instinct after mistaking her for an intruder.
“When you are a sportsman, you act even more on instinct,” he said. “It’s instinct — things happen and that’s what you do.” When contacted by AFP, the father denied speaking to the Sunday Telegraph and refused to provide any further details. The newspaper’s reporter Aislinn Laing confirmed to AFP she had spoken to the father on Saturday.
Echoing the family’s line, Pistorius’s 89-year-old grandmother also indicated the shooting had been accidental.
“I know it was a mistake anybody can make” Gertie Pistorius told AFP. “I have got my trust in my (grandson) and I have got my trust in the case, and I am sure things will go the right way” she said in a telephone interview from a retirement home in Pretoria.
The family has said the 26-year-old, who is being held until a bail hearing on Tuesday, is “numb with shock as well as grief” over Steenkamp’s death. They told Sapa over the weekend that their son and Steenkamp ‘had plans together and Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time.’
Police have, however, dismissed the intruder theory, noting that there had been several previous domestic incidents at Pistorius’ home.
City Press said Steenkamp was wearing a negligee at the time of the killing and that the bed was rumpled.
Pistorius, who broke down sobbing in his first court appearance on Friday, has built up a powerful team of lawyers, medical specialists, and public relations experts for his defence.
Stuart Higgins, a former editor of British tabloid The Sun, whose lengthy list of clients include British Airways, Chelsea FC and Manchester United football club, will be handling public relations in the case.
One of the lawyers, Kenny Oldwage, acted for the driver in a 2010 accident that killed former president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela’s great-grandchild Zenani. The driver was acquitted.
Peet van Zyl, Pistorius’ agent, told The Associated Press that his fans were giving him ‘overwhelming support’ in light of the charges. He said the support was ‘really on a global scale’. He had visited Pistorius at the police station to discuss his future running career. AP reported that Van Zyl said he had already started cancelling Pistorius’ races scheduled for 2013, adding, ‘I have decided that following these tragic events that we have no option but to cancel all future races…to allow Oscar to concentrate on the upcoming legal proceedings.’
A statement would be released soon featuring exact details of races and sponsorship deals affected by the tragic circumstances. Sportswear giant Nike and eyewear manufacturer Oakley are among Pistorius’ big-name sponsors.
Meanwhile, the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) has said the Paralympian should not be granted bail when he appears in court on Tuesday. The league’s spokesperson Troy Martens said the claims in the media that there was a strong case of premeditated murder should be taken into consideration by the magistrate, and he should thus ‘heed the call of the prosecutors in this case and deny bail.’
She added, ‘No special circumstances should be considered based on his celebrity status.’
In the latest update, on Monday morning, Beeld reported that Pistorius had accidentally fired a gun shot in a busy Melrose Arch restaurant in Johannesburg in January. He narrowly missed shooting the foot of friend Kevin Lerena, a boxer and mutual friend of the couple.
Lerena told Beeld, ‘I got a huge fright because the bullet hit the ground just centimetres from my foot … but it really was just a freak accident.’
He added, ‘I must emphasise that the gun belonged to one of Pistorius’ friends –I’m not going to mention his name. Oscar just wanted to look at the gun, and it sort of snagged on his pants, releasing the safety catch. A shot went off. I wouldn’t call him negligent, it was just an accident. He apologised to me for days afterwards.’
The restaurant did not report the incident to the police, because Pistorius and Steenkamp were regular customers.
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