Oscar’s temper in the spotlight

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Oscar Pistorius is seen at the North Gauteng High Court on Monday after spending 30 days under psychiatric observation. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Pretoria - Murder-accused Oscar Pistorius has only lost his temper twice in the eight years his agent Petrus Van Zyl worked with him, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Tuesday.

In one case Pistorius arrived in Barcelona, Spain for a meeting after he had raced against able-bodied athletes at the London Olympic Games in 2012.

“They stuck a camera in his face and called him a cheat,” Van Zyl told the court.

He was being questioned by Barry Roux, for Pistorius, during the athlete's trial on the charge of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

There had been allegations that Pistorius had been at an advantage because of his running blades.

The double amputee was selected for South Africa in the individual 400m race.

Van Zyl said the second incident was during an interview shortly before the London Olympics.

Van Zyl said the tone of the questioning was “don't you think it's an embarrassment by running against able-bodied athletes”.

He said he lost his temper as well on both occasions.

Van Zyl said he and Pistorius began working together in 2006.

While testifying, Van Zyl said Pistorius had a heightened sense of awareness. On one occasion when the two were travelling in Pistorius's car to the airport he said the athlete drove at a high speed.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Van Zyl why Pistorius felt the need to drive at high speed.

“Why did you allow him to drive at high speed?” Nel asked.

Van Zyl said others had also noticed Pistorius's fast driving and none of them had complained.

“There were reports that Oscar drove at high speed. I was informed by some of the athletes that used to drive with him.

“No one ever complained to me about it,” Van Zyl told the court.

Nel asked Van Zyl whether he had heard about Pistorius's roommate's request to be moved to another room in the athletes' village at the London Olympics in 2012. The roommate apparently complained Pistorius spent hours shouting at people on his phone.

Van Zyl said he was not informed why the athletes were separated, just that it was dealt with by the South African team at the village.

“I wasn't in London at the time... team management dealt with the issue then and there.”

Van Zyl said he never discussed with Pistorius what happened on February 14, 2013, when he shot and killed Steenkamp in his Pretoria home. He merely sent his condolences.

“We did not discuss specifics of the incident at all. Not once.”

Van Zyl told the court he was not aware of Pistorius's love for guns until November 2012.

“I'd never seen him carry a gun or take part in shooting ranges before that. He said he carried it because he feared for his own safety.”

An article in the United Kingdom's Daily Mail newspaper, published in August 2011, depicted the athlete as a gun-loving bachelor who kept guns in his Pretoria home.

Nel asked Van Zyl if he discussed the article with the athlete.

“At that stage I didn't see it as negative,” he replied.

When asked if he would describe Pistorius as paranoid, Van Zyl said he was not qualified to comment.

He said he knew Pistorius as kind and courteous, not aggressive.

The trial was adjourned to 9.30am on Wednesday.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp through the locked door of the toilet in his Pretoria home, having testified that he thought she was an intruder about to open the door and attack him. She was struck in the hip, arm, and head.

After firing the shots, Pistorius used a cricket bat to break open the door to get to a dying Steenkamp.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder as well as not guilty to three firearm-related charges.

The State argues he killed her during an argument.

Sapa


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