4 Jun 2013

Pistorius in court as murder trial postponed to August

“Blade Runner” athlete Oscar Pistorius appears briefly at a pre-trial hearing in Pretoria, where the magistrate sets 19 August as the date for his trial for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius, 26, had to make his way through a scrum of photographers and reporters as he walked through the main entrance of the Pretoria magistrates court early this morning.

He has admitted to shooting Reeva Steenkamp, 29, four times through a locked bathroom door on Valentine’s day at his home in an affluent Pretoria community.

In pre-trial testimony, his lawyers told the court the shooting was a tragic mistake and Pistorius was acting in self-defence against what he thought was an intruder.

Shots through door

Prosecutors accuse him of premeditated murder for firing into the door, hitting Steenkamp in the head, hip and arm.

“This hearing is just for a postponement, which may not even go above 10 minutes,” prosecution spokesman Medupe Simasiku said.

Pistorius, a double amputee nicknamed “Blade Runner” for the prosthetics he uses in competition, was one of the stars of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in London.

Shock charge

His arrest and subsequent murder charge shocked millions around the world as he was seen as a symbol of triumph over adversity.

In South Africa, he was a hero for both blacks and whites, transcending the racial divides that persist 19 years after the end of apartheid.

Pistorius has mostly kept out of the public eye since he secured bail. Media reported that in April he partied at a nightclub in a Johannesburg suburb after his bail conditions were relaxed the previous month.

The Pistorius camp said the matter was blown out of proportion and that he went out for a quiet dinner with friends after spending weeks in the house with family.

His trial was postponed until 19 August.