Murder accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius. File photo: Reuters

Johannesburg - Race horse trainer Mike Azzie, a close friend of Oscar Pistorius, said he warned the Paralympian to “settle down with a plain Jane like his mother as the Barbie dolls would get him into trouble, but he didn’t listen”.

A tearful and emotional Azzie, who co-owns R3.6 million race horse Potala Palace with Pistorius, said their relationship went well beyond being business partners.

“Oscar grew up in front of my eyes. He was in form one to five with my twin boys at Pretoria Boys’ High,” he said. “He would come on family holidays down the coast with us. It was through my sons that Oscar got involved with horses,” said Azzie, breaking down in tears.

“It’s difficult because I knew both families. Reeva’s father is a horse trainer as well, so I knew him. It is a parent’s worst fear to have to bury their children, but this is just so uncharacteristic of Oscar.”

Pistorius also has shares in a horse, Tiger Canon, with Jessica Slack, granddaughter of Bridget Oppenheimer.

Azzie said everyone was focusing on the bad and forgetting all the good Pistorius had done.

“He has helped many people financially and emotionally. Reports that Oscar threatened to break people’s legs are half-truths. The week before he was beaten up by the same guy, his threat was a defensive gesture. Oscar is a compassionate boy with a lot of love to give. My sons always joked about how affectionate he was. He is not a bad boy,” he said.

Azzie described Pistorius’s mother, who died when he was a teenager, as an “amazing woman”, and said the sports star relied heavily on his brother and sister for support.

“People are too quick to judge and blame, when a few weeks ago they were clamouring for autographs and pictures with Oscar. I wish people would stop crucifying Oscar and let the law take its course. But I understand it is a very difficult time for the Steenkamp family.”

Pistorius was removed from the guest list for Durban billionaire Vivian Reddy’s extravagant 60th birthday bash this weekend. Reddy said he had decided against having Pistorius as a motivational speaker for 10 000 disadvantaged children at uShaka.

“We decided that we had enough speakers, so we didn’t follow through with securing him. Nevertheless, I am saddened by the turn of events as he was held in high esteem around the world.”

Bert le Clos, father of Olympic gold medallist Chad, said they got to know Pistorius fairly well during the London Olympics last year, but he didn’t want to comment. “It is a double tragedy for both families. While the Le Clos family is saddened by this tragedy, we cannot comment or be seen to be taking sides. But Chad is understandably upset.” - Sunday Independent