Source: Agencies | 2013-2-15 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
PARALYMPIC superstar Oscar Pistorius was yesterday charged with the murder of his girlfriend who was shot inside his home in South Africa.
It was a stunning development in the life of a national hero known as the Blade Runner for his high-tech artificial legs.
Reeva Steenkamp, a model who spoke out on Twitter against the rape and abuse of women, was shot four times in the early hours at the house in a gated community in the capital, Pretoria, police said.
Hours later, after questioning, Pistorius left a police station accompanied by officers. He looked down as photographers snapped pictures, the hood on his gray workout jacket pulled up, covering most of his face.
Police said a 26-year-old male was to appear in court later in the day on a charge of murder and that there had "previously been incidents at the home of Mr Oscar Pistorius."
Police in South Africa do not name suspects in crimes until they have appeared in court but Brigadier Denise Beukes said Pistorius was at his home at the time of Steenkamp's death and "there is no other suspect involved."
"Yes there are witnesses and there have also been interviews this morning," Beukes told reporters outside the gated community. "We are talking about neighbors and people that heard things that happened earlier in the evening and when the shooting took place."
Police said earlier reports that Steenkamp may have been mistaken for a burglar by Pistorius did not come from the police. Several local media outlets had initially reported that the shooting may have been accidental.
"It would be very premature and very irresponsible of me to say what actually has happened," Beukes said. "There have been allegations. We are not sure."
Beukes also said there had been previous incidents and "allegations of a domestic nature" at the home of the Olympic star and double-amputee runner.
Police spokeswoman Katlego Mogale said officers received a call at around 3am after the shooting and a 9mm pistol was recovered.
Mogale said that when police arrived they found paramedics trying to revive a 30-year-old woman, who had been shot four times.
Police have not released the woman's name, but a publicist for Steenkamp confirmed the model was dead.
"We can confirm that Reeva Steenkamp has passed away," Sarit Tomlinson said.
"Our thoughts and prayers go to the Steenkamp family, who have asked to have their privacy respected during this difficult time. Everyone is simply devastated. She was the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on Earth and will be sorely missed."
Tomlinson said Steenkamp, known simply as Reeva, was one of FHM magazine's 100 Sexiest Women in the World for two years running and appeared in countless international and national advertisements and on TV.
On Twitter, she tweeted messages urging women to stand up against rape alongside her excitement about Valentine's Day. "What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow?" she tweeted. "It should be a day of love for everyone."
Mogale and Beukes said the victim's family had not yet identified the body.
In London last year, Pistorius became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympics.
The athlete, who had both his legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday because of a congenital condition, campaigned for years to be allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes. Having initially been banned because of his carbon fiber blades - critics said they gave him an unfair advantage - he was cleared by sport's highest court in 2008 and allowed to run at highest level.
He competed in the 400 meters and on South Africa's 4x400 relay team at the London Games, after having his selection confirmed at the last minute. He also retained his Paralympic 400 meters title in London.
South Africa has some of the highest murder rates in the world, with almost 50 people killed each day in a nation with a population of 50 million.