South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius is in police custody before a Pretoria court appearance tomorrow after a 30-year-old woman was shot dead in his house.
Police have opened a murder case against a 26-year-old man and will oppose bail, Denise Beukes, a police spokeswoman said in Pretoria, the capital. National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Medupe Simasiku said Pistorius will appear in court tomorrow in the city. Kenny Oldwadge, a lawyer for Pistorius, declined to comment by phone today. Reeva Steenkamp, a model who was dating Pistorius, died this morning, Ice Model Management, which represented Steenkamp, said in a statement.
“The only two people on the premises were the resident and the deceased,” Beukes said. “We can confirm Oscar is at the Boschkop police station.”
Pistorius, dubbed “the Blade Runner” because of his double leg amputation and prosthetic running blades, has won six paralympic gold medals. He became the first amputee runner to compete at an Olympic Games in London last year and was named by Time Magazine in its list of the world’s 100 most-influential people. Pistorius was born without fibulas and had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old.
“There are witnesses and they have also been interviewed,” Beukes said. “We are talking about neighbors and people who heard things earlier in the evening and during the shooting.”
There were previous incidents of “a domestic nature” at Pistorius’ home, she said, declining to give further details.
South Africa recorded 30.9 murders per 100,000 people in the 12 month period through March 2012, down from 31.9 per 100,000, the South African Police Service said on Sept. 20. The murder rate has fallen since reaching 67.9 per 100,000 in 1995, when the police force was integrated after the end of all-white, apartheid rule. South Africa’s murder rate is more than six times that of the U.S.
Pistorius, who runs with J-shaped carbon-fiber blades, competed in his first able-bodied elite event at the 2011 track and field world championships in Daegu, South Korea. He got his chance after sport’s highest tribunal, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in 2008 overturned a ban on him competing against able-bodied athletes imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations, which said his blades give him an advantage.
As a child, he played sports including water polo, cricket, tennis and boxing. As part of his rehabilitation after injuring his knee while playing rugby as a 16-year-old, Pistorius took up track running. A year later he won the gold medal in the 200 meters at the 2004 Athens Paralympics.
Pistorius’s manager Peet van Zyl said he was unable to comment when contacted on his mobile phone. Sunglasses designer Oakley Inc., perfume producer Thierry Mugler, telecommunications provider BT Group Plc, and Ossur Hf, which manufactured his Flex-Foot Cheetah blades, sponsor Pistorius, according to his website.
Ossur said it may end the deal with Pistorius if he is charged, Sigurborg Arnarsdottir, a spokeswoman, said today.
Multichoice, South Africa’s satellite TV company owned by Naspers Ltd., pulled an advertising campaign and removed billboards featuring Pistorius “out of respect and sympathy to the bereaved,” spokeswoman Lani Lombard said in an e-mailed response to questions.
Steenkamp got a degree in law from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and was voted in the Top 100 most attractive women last year in FHM’s South Africa edition, according to her publicist Sarit Tomlinson.
“It is indeed a very sad day for all those that loved and treasured” Steenkamp, Ice Model Management said. James Kelly, the managing director of the agency, said Steenkamp and Pistorius were dating.