Oscar Pistorius.  Picture: REUTERS
Oscar Pistorius. Picture: REUTERS

PARALYMPIC track star Oscar Pistorius will appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Friday following the Valentine’s Day shooting of model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp at his home in the city.

“He will be kept in police custody,” said National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) official Medupe Simasiku on Thursday afternoon.

Bail will be opposed when Mr Pistorius appears, police spokeswoman Brig Denise Beukes told reporters earlier.

Police said the internationally renowned Paralympic and Olympic athlete — dubbed “Blade Runner” — could face murder charges.

Journalists waited at the Pretoria Prison Court — a division of the magistrate’s court — where Mr Pistorius was expected to appear before they learnt he would appear before the magistrate’s court on Friday.

NPA regional spokesman Medupe Simasiku confirmed that Mr Pistorius would appear in Pretoria Magistrate’s Court at 9am on Friday.

“The reason why he did not appear today is because police were still busy with the preliminary investigations. I don’t have the details but it usually includes blood tests for intoxicating substances,” Mr Simasiku said.

Mr Pistorius was held at the Boschkop police station on Thursday morning and was then seen by a Sapa news agency reporter at the Mamelodi Day Clinic after a high-speed convoy drove him there.

Speaking generally, and without commenting specifically on Mr Pistorius, Brig Beukes said suspects were routinely taken for medical examinations in such cases.

“It is a standard procedure,” she said. “They (hospital staff) test under the nails, they look for scratches and bruises, and blood is taken for alcohol and drug screening.”

Mr Pistorius was co-operating with police.

Brig Beukes said there had been incidents of domestic violence at his house. “I confirm there had been previous incidents of a domestic nature at his place, but this will form part of the investigation,” she said.

There was no sign of forced entry into Mr Pistorius’s home, and reports that the woman was shot after she had been mistaken for an intruder did not emanate from the police.

“As the South African Police Service, we do not have a report based on those allegations. We only heard over the radio that the woman was shot after she was mistaken for an intruder,” Brig Beukes said.

She added later: “The surprise was that the information was given to the media. The police did not provide the information.”

Brig Beukes said forensic detectives were collecting evidence from the crime scene and journalists would not be allowed inside until police handed over the scene to the residential estate’s security company.

The NPA’s Mr Simasiku said: “We are still awaiting the dockets before we can say if the state will oppose bail or not. We also cannot confirm the charge since the docket is in the hands of the police.”

The public reacted with shock to the news of the shooting. Callers on John Robbie’s Talk Radio 702 breakfast show expressed a range of opinions about the incident, which has ignited a fresh debate on crime in the country.

M-Net withdrew an advertising campaign featuring Mr Pistorius on Thursday, the television channel said.

“M-Net concluded a one-off, short-term contract with Oscar Pistorius for a six-week campaign to promote the Academy Awards,” spokeswoman Lani Lombard said. “The agreement has come to an end.”

On social media, the death of Ms Steenkamp and Mr Pistorius’s subsequent arrest overshadowed President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address, to be delivered on Thursday night.

The news also lent a somber mood to the event in Parliament in Cape Town. In his address last year, Mr Zuma had described Mr Pistorius as the country’s “star performer”.  At the time, he congratulated Mr Pistorius on winning the 2012 Laureus Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award.

A year later, as Mr Zuma delivers his address, Mr Pistorius will prepare to spend the night in jail ahead of his court appearance on Friday.

Last year, Mr Pistorius became the first double leg amputee to compete in the Olympic Games when he ran the 400m race in London, reaching the semifinal, and was part of the South African 4x400m relay team. When competing, he uses specially designed carbon-fibre prostheses, which gave rise to his nickname of “Blade Runner”.

He also took part in the London Paralympics, where he won two gold medals and one silver medal.

With Khulekani Magubane, Sapa and Natasha Marrian