Oscar Pistorius has called off the races that were due in coming months in the face of charges of murdering his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day, his manager said.
By Susan Njanji, Johannesburg, Reuters
The 26-year-old Olympic and Paralympic athlete was charged on Friday with the premeditated murder of Reeva Steenkamp, 29, who was shot dead at his luxury Pretoria home.
He had been contracted to compete in races in Australia, Brazil, Britain, and the US between March and May.
“I have decided that following these tragic events that we have no option but to cancel all future races that Oscar Pistorius had been contracted to compete in, to allow Oscar to concentrate on the upcoming legal proceedings,” manager Peet van Zyl said.
Sponsors and partners would in the meantime maintain their contractual commitments awaiting the outcome of the legal process, said Van Zyl.
Pistorius’s family denies he intentionally killed the blonde covergirl. His father said he had “zero doubt” his son had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder.
The family has said the double amputee, who is widely seen as an adrenaline junkie with a love for speed and guns, is “numb with shock as well as grief” over Steenkamp’s death.
The model’s father has said “there is no hatred in our hearts” over her death — as the star’s father revealed that Pistorius may have “acted on instinct”.
Pistorius is accused of killing his girlfriend who was shot four times. Police reportedly found a bloodied cricket bat at the house.
South Africa’s City Press quoted police sources as saying investigators had found the cricket bat. “There was lots of blood on the bat,” one source said.
Police are investigating whether the bat was used to assault Ms Steenkamp, who was shot four times, including in the head, during 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,” the police source told City Press.
Authorities have rejected suggestions that Pistorius mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.
Yesterday, Neville Malila, a police spokesman, refused to comment on the reports of the cricket bat.
“I don’t know where they got it from, but they didn’t get it from any official source in the police.”
Other reports suggested that there had been an altercation between the two that had spilled over from Wednesday night, when neighbours called security guards complaining about a “commotion” inside the Pistorius home.
An uncle of Pistorius claimed he was planning a future with Steenkamp.
“They had plans together and Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time,” Arnold Pistorius said in a statement released by his nephew’s agent.
“We are in a state of total shock — firstly about the tragic death of Reeva who we had all got to know well and care for deeply over the last few months,” he said. “All of us saw at first hand how close she had become to Oscar during that time and how happy they were.”
The suggestion Pistorius’s family was close to Steenkamp runs counter to comments from Pistorius’s father, Henke, who told the New York Times he had never met his son’s partner.
“I don’t discuss my son’s relationships. I have, in fact, not met the lady,” he was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the best friend of Oscar Pistorius has told how the athlete rang him the night his girlfriend was shot and said: “I’ve killed my Baba. God take me away.”
Justin Divaris — who introduced Steenkamp to the South African gold medallist — told the Sunday People that Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner, was crying down the phone and admitted he had shot the 29-year-old model. By the time he arrived at Pistorius’s house, the double amputee was already being held by police.
Prosecutors alleged the shooting was premeditated, a charge that could put Pistorius behind bars for life if convicted.
Pistorius is being held in a Pretoria police station before the resumption of his bail hearing tomorrow.
Reality show storm
It was billed as a fitting tribute to “an intelligent, beautiful and amazing woman” but the airing of a Caribbean reality TV show featuring the girlfriend of Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius two days after she was shot dead has upset some South Africans.
In particular, women’s rights activists criticised an edited clip at the start of Saturday night’s ‘Tropika Island of Treasure’ in which law graduate and model Reeva Steenkamp talks about her “exit”.
“I think that the way you go out, not just your journey in life but the way that you go out and you make your exit is so important,” she says, leaning against a palm tree in a pre- recorded interview on the show’s set in Jamaica.
At the end of the tribute, presumably recorded when she was voted off the show, she blows kisses to the camera and says: “I’m going to miss you all so much. I love you very, very much.”
Rachel Jewkes, a gender and health researcher at the South African Medical Research Council, said the clips were particularly insensitive in a country where a woman is estimated to be killed by her partner every eight hours.
“There was a big question about whether it should have been shown at all, or whether they were trying to get audience ratings off the fact she had died,” Ms Jewkes said.
Show producer Samantha Moon said the decision to air the programme on Saturday as scheduled was difficult but ultimately she wanted to share the “special memories” of Ms Steenkamp.
“Reeva was an intelligent, beautiful and amazing woman, and we feel it would be an injustice to keep that unknown from those who did not know her personally,” she said.
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