February 15, 2013

Blade Runner charged: Shooting death shocks South Africa

Questions surround what led to the killing of a 30-year-old model, allegedly by the double-amputee Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius.

By GERALD IMRAY and JON GAMBRELL The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Oscar Pistorius of South Africa competes in the men’s 400-meter final at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China.

The Associated Press

Reeva Steenkamp
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Portfolio photo provided by Ice Model Management in Johannesburg shows Reeva Steenkamp, the 30-year-old model who was shot to death.

The Associated Press

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The leggy blonde with a law degree also appeared in international and South African ads and was a celebrity contestant on "Tropika Island of Treasure," a South African reality show filmed in Jamaica.

While known for her bikini-clad, vamping photo spreads, she tweeted messages urging women to stand up against rape. Her tweets also focused on Pistorius, with one of her last messages noting her excitement over Valentine's Day.

"What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow?" she wrote. "It should be a day of love for everyone."

Police have not publicly named Steenkamp as the victim, saying only that a 30-year-old woman was killed. Steenkamp's publicist, however, confirmed in a statement that the model had died.

"Everyone is simply devastated," said the publicist, Sarit Tomlinson. "She was the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on earth and will be sorely missed."

Police arrived at Pistorius' home after 3 a.m., and paramedics tried unsuccessfully to revive Steenkamp, police spokeswoman Lt. Col. Katlego Mogale said.

Officers later took Pistorius to a hospital so doctors could collect samples for DNA testing and check his blood alcohol content.

Pistorius had both legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday because of a congenital condition, and campaigned for years to be allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes.

He was initially banned because of his carbon fiber blades -- which critics said gave him an unfair advantage -- before being cleared by sport's highest court in 2008.

He was a last-minute selection to South Africa's Olympic team, competing in the 400 meters and the 4x400 relay. He later retained his Paralympic title in the 400 meters.

South Africa's Sports Confederation, its Olympic committee and the International Paralympic Committee all had no comment on the shooting.

Shock rippled across South Africa, a nation of 50 million where nearly 50 people are killed each day, one of the world's highest murder rates. U.N. statistics say South Africa also has the second highest rate of shooting deaths in the world, behind only Colombia.

"The question is: Why does this story make the news? Yes, because they are both celebrities, but this is happening on every single day in South Africa," said Adele Kirsten, a member of Gun Free South Africa.

"We have thousands of people killed annually by gun violence in our country. So the anger is about that it is preventable."

 

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