Family speaks up
Olympian’s uncle breaks silence on death of Reeva Steenkamp
Oscar Pistorius’s family denies prosecutors’ claims that he killed his girlfriend.
pretoria, south africa — Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius is “numb with shock, as well as grief ” after the shooting death of his model girlfriend at his home in South Africa, the runner’s uncle said Saturday, as his family strongly denied prosecutors’ claims that he killed her.
Arnold Pistorius first spoke to reporters at his home in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, about his nephew’s arrest in the killing of Reeva Steenkamp on the morning of Valentine’s Day.
In the statement, the family also came out strongly against prosecutors seeking to upgrade the charge against Pistorius to one of premeditated murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison.
“We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation and that the state’s own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder or murder as such,” Arnold Pistorius said.
The track star’s arrest in the killing of 29-year-old Steenkamp shocked South Africa, where Pistorius, a double below-the-knee amputee.known for his high-tech prosthetics, was a national hero and revered for overcoming his disability to compete in London’s Olympic Games. Steenkamp was discovered in a pool of blood before dawn Thursday by police called to Pistorius’s home in a gated community in Pretoria. Authorities said she had been shot four times, and a 9mm pistol was recovered at the home.
Pistorius is being held at a police station pending a bail hearing Tuesday.
There will be a variety of hearings before Pistorius, 26, could go on trial. In South Africa, there are no juries, so a judge ultimately would decide his guilt or innocence. At an initial hearing Friday, Pistorius sobbed and held his head in his hands at times. He has yet to enter a plea in the case.
The family denial that Pistorius committed murder doesn’t neces- sarily mean that they say he didn’t shoot her, as murder is a legal term. Initial speculation immediately after the shooting Thursday suggested that it could have been accidental, although police say they don’t believe that.
Arnold Pistorius did not discuss the circumstances of the shooting but said that his nephew and Steenkamp had become very close since they started dating in November.
“They had plans together, and Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time,” the uncle said.
Pistorius remains very close with his uncle, a man he once lived with as a teenager.
“Words cannot adequately describe our feelings,” his uncle said.