Oscar Pistorius facing two more gun charges

Extra accusations believed to relate to shootings from open-top car and at restaurant before Reeva Steenkamp death

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The Independent Online

Prosecutors in South Africa have hit Oscar Pistorius with two more firearms charges, added to those he faces over the alleged murder of his former girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The Olympian and Paralympian will stand trial in March, with the new charges alleging he recklessly shot his gun in public in the weeks before Steenkamp's death.

Ms Steenkamp was found dead at Pistorius' Pretoria villa in the early hours of 14 February. She had been shot several times.

Pistrorius, who turns 27 on Friday, was arrested soon after and charged with premeditated murder, which he denies. He says he shot her in error, mistaking her for an intruder.

His lawyers could argue against all four charges being heard together, as the new offences are alleged to have taken place in Johannesburg, a different jurisdiction to the earlier ones.

But South Africa's director of public prosecutions granted special permission for them to be heard together last month.

On Wednesday Nathi Mncube, South Africa's national prosecution spokesman, told The Associated Press news agency: "What happened today is ... Mr Pistorius was served with a new indictment. We have to advise him (of the extra charges) to accord him with enough time to prepare his defence."

He declined to give the exact details of the new charges, but South African reports say they relate to two alleged incidents where Pistorius recklessly shot a gun in public. The first alleges that Pistorius fired his licensed 9mm handgun — the gun used to kill Steenkamp — out the open sunroof of a car in Johannesburg while traveling with friends last year.

In the second in January this year, and just weeks before Steenkamp's death, Pistorius is said to have accidentally shot a friend's gun under the table at a Johannesburg restaurant, apparently while admiring it.

For both alleged offences he could be charged with public endangerment and damage to property.

Pistorius, formerly a national hero and sporting icon, has kept a low profile since Ms Steenkamp's death. In rare public comments last week, The City Press quoted him as saying he was "anxious" about the trial next year, and was spending a lot of time with family.

"I feel calm," he said. "I now spend most of my time with my family and I enjoy their company.

"They are wonderful and their support is incredible. But, I must say, at the same time I am also anxious about the upcoming court case."