'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius formally charged and trial date is set over 'planned murder' of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Paralympian prays in court as trial is set for March


Sharp-suited but sombre-faced, a visibly emotional Oscar Pistorius walked into Pretoria magistrates courtroom C, bowed his head in the dock and prayed.

On what would have been his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp’s 30th birthday, Mr Pistorius was formally indicted for her murder. The charge comes months after the Paralympian gold medallist shot Ms Steenkamp to death with his 9mm pistol through a bathroom door on Valentine’s Day morning.

Turning his back to the bank of snapping camera shutters, the “Blade Runner” – as he was known, due to the prosthetic legs he wears – grasped the hands of his brother Carl and sister Aimee, closing his eyes to the packed public gallery.

The magistrate, Desmond Nair, asked the athlete if he was well. “Under the circumstances,” Mr Pistorius replied.

The state prosecutor Gerrie Nel announced the “mutually agreed” trial date as 3 March 2014. The indictment specifies two charges: “planned or premeditated” murder, and the illegal possession of ammunition. It describes how prosecution witnesses “heard a woman scream, followed by moments of silence, then heard gunshots and more screaming”. Mr Pistorius has admitted shooting his girlfriend, saying he believed Ms Steenkamp to be an intruder.

Speaking to a small group of journalists outside, a National Prosecuting Authority spokesman, Medupe Simasiku, said the trial period could be extended, but they were hoping to avoid any further delays.

“The police did a very sterling job, within these few months having a full case ready for court,” he said, “We are getting ready. We need to make sure that everything is in place.”

Mr Simasiku says they will not necessarily call all the witnesses identified on the hefty list accompanying the indictment to testify. The 107 names notably include Pistorius’ ex-girlfriends Melissa Rom and Samantha Taylor, Ms Steenkamp’s ex-boyfriend Warren Lahoud, the former lead investigator Hilton Botha, Pistorius’s firearms trainer, and some of the model’s closest friends.

One witness who might take the stand, Ms Steenkamp’s housemate and best friend Gina Myers, attended the hearing, sitting across the aisle from the Pistorius siblings, huddled with her family for support amid her tears. The Myers family, with whom Ms Steenkamp lived while pursuing her modelling career in Johannesburg, made an emotional statement outside the courtroom.

“Now more than ever, her memory lives on for her friends who cannot forget the lasting effect she had on everyone she met,” their lawyer and spokesman Ian Levett read.

Steenkamp family members gathered in her small hometown of Port Elizabeth to celebrate what would have been a milestone birthday.

Mr Pistorius’s bail conditions remain unchanged, so he will be able to compete abroad until the trial.

South African Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius (R), flanked by his sister Aimee (L) and his brother Carl, appears at the Magistrate Court in Pretoria on 19 August, 2013. Pistorius appeared on charges of murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day  

Oscar Pistorius with Reeva Steenkamp Oscar Pistorius with Reeva Steenkamp  

Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Dennis Rodman has confirmed he is not going to the Middle East to 'talk to with the leaders of Isis' as claimed in a recent satirical report
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam