Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee South African track star who ran in the Olympics, held a private memorial service yesterday for Reeva Steenkamp, the 29-year-old model he’s been accused of killing.
Pistorius was charged with murder after Steenkamp was shot in his home on Feb. 14. The 26-year-old, who says he mistook Steenkamp, 29, for an intruder, was released on 1 million rand ($113,000) bail on Feb. 22. The conditions of his release included surrendering his guns and passports, abstaining from alcohol and not leaving the South African capital, Pretoria, without permission.
“I can confirm the memorial service took place,” Janine Hills, chief executive officer of Vuma Reputation Management, which is representing the athlete, said by phone today. “I cannot give any more detail or say who attended it.”
The service, which was announced because of a “leak” to the media, was held at the home of his uncle, Arnold Pistorius, Vuma said yesterday, requesting privacy. The Pistorius family was “devastated” following the reports of the service, Hills said.
The athlete, known as the “Blade Runner” because of his prosthetic running blades, met prisons officials yesterday to discuss visiting rights as Steenkamp’s family appointed lawyers to protect their interests.
Pistorius is free to move around Pretoria at specific times during the week, Vuma said in an earlier e-mailed statement. “The bail conditions of Oscar Pistorius do not specifically state that he has to report to Pretoria’s Brooklyn Police Station,” it said.
Steenkamp’s parents appointed attorney Mike Venter and senior advocate Dup de Bruyn to “act as a shield” for the family, De Bruyn said by phone from Port Elizabeth, on South Africa’s southern coast. The death and investigation have been on the front pages of most South African newspapers since Feb. 15, the day after Valentine’s Day, when Steenkamp was slain.
“This is a very sad and traumatic time for us,” Steenkamp’s parents, Barry and June Steenkamp, said in a statement e-mailed by De Bruyn yesterday. “Therefore, for the time being, there will be no interviews or discussions with the media whatsoever.”
Pistorius is considering asking the court to ease the bail conditions, his lawyer Kenny Oldwage said Feb 25. These include a probation officer providing weekly reports on Pistorius’s mental health and emotional state to South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority and his defense team, according to the statement. His curfew is 7 p.m. from Monday to Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
A substance found in Pistorius’s bedroom was Testis compositum, a herbal remedy which helps muscle recovery, the Associated Press reported, citing his public relations company. The former lead police investigator on the case, Hilton Botha, told a Pretoria court on Feb. 20 substances found at the runner’s home were testosterone. The prosecution backtracked from the statement and Botha has since been removed from the case.
Pistorius 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.
Since the shooting, Pistorius has lost sponsorships with Nike Inc., the world’s largest sporting-goods company, Luxottica Group SpA’s Oakley and Clarins SA’s Thierry Mugler perfume brand.
Pistorius is next scheduled to appear in court on June 4.