Pistorius breaks silence on first anniversary of Reeva Steenkamp's death

Friday 14 February 2014 20.04
Reeva Steenkamp pictured with Oscar Pistorius
Reeva Steenkamp pictured with Oscar Pistorius

South African Olympic and Paralympic track athlete Oscar Pistorius has broken his months-long silence about the shooting of his girlfriend, on the first anniversary of her death.

He called Reeva Steenkamp's death a "devastating accident".

Mr Pistorius, who goes on trial on 3 March, says he shot Ms Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder at his high-security home last Valentine's Day.

State lawyers say he killed her in cold blood.

"No words can adequately capture my feelings about the devastating accident that has caused such heartache for everyone who truly loved, and continues to love, Reeva," Mr Pistorius said in a brief statement.

"The loss of Reeva and the complete trauma of that day, I will carry with me for the rest of my life," said the athlete, who is on bail but could face life in prison if convicted.

The 27-year-old double-amputee, known as "Blade Runner" for the prostheses he wears in competition, was one of South Africa's most revered sportsmen.

The case has highlighted South Africa's high rate of violent attacks on women, including rape, which rights groups say are often perpetrated by partners or other people known to them.

The women's league of the ruling ANC party led a march in the capital Pretoria to commemorate Steenkamp's death.

Many participants held up posters denouncing violence against women.

In a statement, the league said its march was intended to make communities aware of the "barbaric conduct against women and children" in the country.

Private news channel eNCA ran an anniversary documentary in which Steenkamp's friends and family recounted how the law graduate turned model was vocal about such issues.

Police say 107 witnesses are expected to testify for the prosecution in Mr Pistorius's trial.

The state's case is that he intended to kill Steenkamp when he shot her in the head, arm and hip.

Last October, prosecutors said the athlete would face two additional gun-related charges related to prior incidents in which he allegedly fired a gun in a public space.