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South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius charged with murder

Thursday 14 Feb 2013 9:58p.m.

Oscar Pistorius charged with murder

By Jon Gambrell and Gerald Imray with 3 News online staff

Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been charged with murder after a woman was shot dead at his home in the country's capital, Pretoria.

Lt. Col. Katlego Mogale of the South African police told The Associated Press that they received a call in the early hours of the morning that there had been a shooting at the double-amputee runner's home in a gated complex.

Mogale said when police arrived they found paramedics trying to revive the woman, who had been shot an unspecified number of times. Mogale, who was at the scene, said the woman died at the house.

Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, was the victim of the shooting. Her identity was confirmed by the Capacity Relations talent management firm.

Officers found a 9-mm pistol at Pistorius' house. Mogale said the 26-year-old Pistorius was expected to appear in court later on Thursday.

Many South African media outlets earlier reported that the dead woman was Pistorius' girlfriend and that he may have mistaken her for a burglar and shot her.

It was reported that she was trying to surprise him for Valentine's Day and he thought she was an intruder.

South Africa's Sports Confederation and Olympic committee released a statement later Thursday saying they had been "inundated" with requests for comment but were not in a position to give out any details of the shooting.

"SASCOC, like the rest of the public, knows no more than what is in the public domain, which is there has been an alleged fatal shooting on the basis of a mistaken identity and an apparent assumption of a burglary," the South African Olympic committee said. "The organization is in no position to comment on the incident other than to say our deepest sympathy and condolences have been expressed to the families of all concerned."

SACOC said it would be inappropriate to comment because of the ongoing police investigation.

Pistorius made history in London last year when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. He is one of South Africa's and the world's most famous sportsmen.

Having had both his legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday because of a congenital condition, he campaigned for years to be allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes. Having initially been banned because of his carbon fibre blades – which critics said gave him an unfair advantage – he was cleared by sport's highest court in 2008 and allowed to run at the top events.

He competed in the 400 metres and on South Africa's 4x400 relay team at the London Games, making history after being have his selection confirmed on South Africa's team at the very last minute. He also retained his Paralympic title in the 400 metres in London.

AP/3 News