Johannesburg - On Wednesday night, Reeva Steenkamp tweeted excitedly about her upcoming romantic surprise. On Thursday, she was gunned down – shot at close range at least twice by a 9mm parabellum pistol.
On Thursday night, her boyfriend, world-famous Paralympic hero Oscar Pistorius, was in jail. He had spent Valentine’s Day in custody on suspicion of murdering her in a crime of passion. On Friday, he will appear in court, where he will apply for bail, and the NPA will oppose it.
Six months ago, Pistorius strode the world as an athletic hero, becoming the first Paralympian to compete in an Olympic final. On Thursday, he dominated the world’s media once again.
Police are now trying to piece together the events leading up to the shooting in the upmarket Silver Woods Country Estate in Pretoria.
According to police spokeswoman Brigadier Denise Beukes, witnesses heard shouts and screams coming from Pistorius’s residence at about 8pm.
It was not the first time that “issues of a domestic nature” had occurred at the house.
But at about 3am on Thursday, neighbours called the police when they heard gunshots coming from Pistorius’s house.
Paramedics found Steenkamp lying downstairs in the entrance hall of the R3.9-million house. She had been shot in the head and upper body.
According to a source, nothing could be done for her.
The 29-year-old former FHM model, who had been dating the 26-year-old for two months, was declared dead at the scene. A 9mm gun registered to Pistorius was recovered. There was no sign of a forced entry.
Pistorius was taken to a Pretoria clinic, where he is said to have undergone tests for alcohol use.
He was due to spend the night in the holding cells of the Boschkop police station before appearing in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court this morning.
“The police are still busy with preliminary investigations. We are not sure of the details of the charges, because we still don’t have the docket in our possession. He will be kept in custody,” said Medupe Simasiku, the regional spokesman for the director of public prosecutions.
Police say that the couple were the only people in the home at the time. There was no sign of forced entry, and the claim Pistorius had thought his girlfriend was an intruder had not come from them, police said.
At about 10.15am, a convoy of 10 police vehicles, including a van, believed to be carrying Pistorius, drove out of the complex and headed to the police station.
Pistorius’s attorney, Kenny Oldwage, and the athlete’s sister, Aimee, were later seen leaving the station in separate vehicles.
At about 11.45am, Pistorius emerged, escorted by two plain-clothed police officers. Covering his head in a grey hooded jacket, Pistorius looked calm as he was led to a white VW Polo. He was taken to the Mamelodi Clinic, where he had his blood drawn. Speaking outside the police station last night, Oldwage said Pistorius was “emotional, but he is keeping up”.
News of the shooting was met with shock and disbelief around the world.
Pistorius’s friend, Justin Divaris, the chief executive of the Daytona Group, said he had had a very sad day.
He said he was very close to both Pistorius and Steenkamp. “I introduced them,” he said. “I am close friends with Oscar, and my girlfriend is the deceased’s best friend, so this has been very hard.”
Divaris said that Pistorius and Steenkamp had met at a race day at Kyalami. The connection was so strong that they attended the South African Sports Awards together that night.
At the time, the athlete was involved with Samantha Taylor, and after pictures emerged of Pistorius and Steenkamp together, Taylor said Pistorius was a player when it came to women.
Divaris said the couple were very much in love. “They were even talking about getting married and having kids,” he said. “There are terrible stories out there, but they aren’t true – they were in love.”
On Wednesday, Steenkamp asked on Twitter: “What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow??? #getexcited #ValentinesDay”.
Pistorius’s father, Henke, said his son was “sad” and a “bit emotional”, adding: “I don’t know nothing. It will be extremely obnoxious and rude to speculate. I don’t know the facts. If anyone makes a statement, it will have to be Oscar.”
Oscar’s agent, Peet van Zyl, said he was “sure what’s happened has been a terrible mistake, but I really don’t have the details.”