On what would have been Reeva Steenkamp’s birthday, Oscar Pistorius is formally indicted on a charge of murdering her and a trial date is set for March 2014.
Pistorius appeared in court for the formal indictment, on charges of murder and illegal possession of ammunition, on Monday morning. It is the day Steenkamp, a model and TV presenter, would have turned 30.
The London 2012 gold medallist was seen crying and holding hands with his sister Aimee and brother Carl before the start of the hearing, having been escorted through a media scrum outside the court.
During the hearing he was indicted on the charges, and told that his trial would begin on 3 March 2014.
Prosecutors submitted a list of more than 100 witnesses for the trial. They claim Pistorius shot Steenkamp three times after an argument.
The 26-year-old athlete says he accidentally killed his girlfriend, who was shot through a bathroom door at Pistorius’ home, after mistaking her for an intruder.
It is understood that key evidence in the trial will include mobile phone records and an examination of the toilet door through which four bullets were fired, three of which hit Steenkamp.
The trajectory of the bullets could show if Pistorius was standing on his stumps when he shot, as he says, or if he was on his prosthetics, as the prosecution maintains.
The indictment means the case against Pistorius is sent to a South African high court, where a judge will preside over the trial and ultimately decide if the athlete innocent or guilty. South Africa does not conduct trial by jury.
In South Africa, the mandatory sentence for someone convicted of premeditated murder is life with a minimum of 25 years in prison. There is no death penalty in South Africa.
Pistorius has rarely been seen in public since the fatal Valentine’s day incident. He has been spotted resuming light training and last week a South African newspaper published photographs of Pistorius on a beach during a holiday with friends.