Oscar Pistorius held his head in his hands and wept openly in court yesterday as prosecutors said they would pursue a charge of premeditated murder against the Paralympic superstar.
Pistorius was formally charged at Pretoria Magistrates’ Court with one count of murder after his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, a model and budding reality TV show participant, was shot and killed at Pistorius’ upmarket home in the predawn hours of Thursday.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said yesterday in court it was premeditated murder, indicating the prosecution would file that more serious charge, upgraded from murder.
The double-amputee athlete’s arrest and murder charge has left South Africa reeling after Steenkamp’s shooting death at Pistorius’ house in a suburb of Pretoria.
Pistorius stood with his face in his hands as he broke down in tears at Pretoria Magistrates’ Court. The magistrate delayed Pistorius’ bail hearing until Tuesday and Wednesday, and ruled that the 26-year-old Pistorius would be held at a police station in Pretoria until then. Police have said they oppose the granting of bail.
Pistorius had solemnly entered the court wearing a suit and tie, and initially appeared composed.
Chief Magistrate Desmond Nasir presided over the hearing in a courtroom jammed with more than 100 people, including numerous local and international journalists.
Pistorius’ father, Henke, was in the court, as was his brother Carl and sister Aimee.
Pistorius’ brother laid his hand on Pistorius’ shoulder inside the courtroom as the Olympic athlete and one of South Africa’s most famous celebrities began to weep.
Police said yesterday an autopsy on the body of the victim was also taking place. Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale said the results of the autopsy would not be published.
The Paralympian and Olympic athlete was earlier seen leaving a police station, his jacket completely covering his head as he got into a police vehicle.
He was holding what appeared to be a white handkerchief in one hand as he was led by officers to a police van outside the Boschkop Police Station in eastern Pretoria, where he had been questioned on Thursday and had spent the night in custody.
A policeman was also seen carrying a handgun in a plastic forensic bag outside the Boschkop station. It was believed to be the weapon used to shoot and kill Steenkamp.
Police said the victim was shot four times at Pistorius’ villa in a gated community. Officers found a 9mm pistol inside the home.
Pistorius made history at the London Olympics last year, becoming the first double-amputee track athlete to compete at any Games.