Pistorius mourns girlfriend, Steenkamp

By The Citizen

South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has spoken of his sorrow over the fatal shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp exactly a year ago.

In a statement on his website, he said: 'The loss of Reeva and the complete trauma of that day, I will carry with me for the rest of my life.'

Pistorius is due to go on trial for her murder in Pretoria in March.

He claims he mistook her for an intruder when he shot her through the toilet door on Valentine's Day 2013.

State prosecutors allege the killing was premeditated following a fight between the couple. He could face life imprisonment if found guilty of the charge.

The rare statement by the Paralympic sprint star was dated February 14, 2014 and read:

'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.

'The pain and sadness - especially for Reeva's parents, family and friends - consumes me with sorrow.

'The loss of Reeva and the complete trauma of that day, I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Oscar.'

Reeva Steenkamp's uncle said there would be a private family gathering near Cape Town to mark the anniversary of her death, though her parents and brothers would not attend.

'We will release balloons in her memory,' Michael Steenkamp told the AFP. 'They will be red and white, her favourite colours.'

Earlier this week, Reeva's mother, June, said she would attend the trial, which is due to begin on March 3.

She thanked their supporters and said: 'All we are looking for is closure and to know that our daughter did not suffer on that tragic Valentine's Day.'

Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and reality TV star, was shot three times while she was in the bathroom of her boyfriend's Pretoria home in the early hours of February 14, 2013.

Pistorius said he thought she was a burglar and denies prosecution claims that they had an argument in the hours before the shooting.

Much of the case will depend on ballistic evidence from the scene of the shooting, correspondents say.

Pistorius' arrest a year ago stunned many South Africans who saw him as a national sporting hero after his long legal battle to be able to take part in the Olympics.

The 27-year-old double amputee won gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and also competed at the Olympics.

As well as the pre-meditated murder charge, Pistorius also faces a charge of illegal possession of ammunition.

Earlier this week, his lawyers confirmed they had reached an out-of-court settlement after a four-year legal battle with Pretoria blogger Cassidy Taylor-Memmory.

Taylor-Memmory had accused the athlete of injuring her at a party in 2009 after he allegedly punched a door that then fell on her leg.

She told Eyewitness News the deal was reached in December.  BBC