JOHANNESBURG – The murder case involving Olympic star Oscar Pistorius took another unexpected turn Sunday with the news that his older brother, Carl, is himself facing charges for the death of a woman in a traffic accident.
Carl Pistorius faces a charge of unlawful, negligent killing for a 2008 road death, “in which a woman motorcyclist sadly lost her life,” Kenneth Oldwage, the Pistorius family lawyer said on Sunday. The accident happened in Vanderbijlpark, south of Johannesburg. The charge of “culpable homicide” was dropped and then reinstated and will be challenged in court, the lawyer told The Associated Press.
It is the second time someone associated with the Pistorius case has been found to face a serious charge that has been dropped and then reinstated. It was revealed that the chief police investigator in the case is facing charges of seven counts of attempted murder for shooting at a vehicle with seven passengers. Following the revelations, Hilton Botha was removed from the Pistorius investigation and a new chief detective was appointed on Thursday.
To drop and then reinstate charges is “not uncommon in South African criminal law. The law specifically makes provision to allow charges to be dropped and then to be reinstated as a result of further investigations,” said Jacob van Garderen, director of Lawyers for Human Rights. “It is a practical procedure, a process that is there to assist both sides.”
In another twist this weekend, model Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot to death by Oscar Pistorius on Valentine’s Day was on television again in a new episode of the reality show “Tropika Island of Treasure 5” even though she was buried last Tuesday.
On Monday, Oscar Pistorius must report to the police station in Brooklyn, a suburb of the nation’s capital Pretoria, and sign in, a twice-weekly procedure which is part of his bail conditions.
Pistorius was released on bail Friday and stayed at the home of his uncle Arnold in Waterkloof, an affluent suburb of Pretoria, where Oscar is now staying. His brother, Carl, came to visit the house Sunday.
The problem confronting his older brother Carl is the latest complication in a case that has transfixed South Africa and much of the world.
“It’s also doubly sad because it’s involved with Oscar and his brother and all the family — so they have double sort of trouble,” said Johannesburg resident Jim Plester.
Lawyer Oldwage said that “Carl deeply regrets the accident” and that a blood test showed he was not drunk at the time. He said the charges had initially been dropped, only to be reinstated later.
Oscar Pistorius was charged with premeditated murder, but the athlete says he killed his girlfriend accidentally, opening fire after mistaking her for an intruder in his home.
The character of Pistorius also continued to take centre stage. For many, it mirrors his public appearances as an articulate, well-spoken advocate for Paralympic athletes facing hardship. Witness statements describing Pistorius as a down-to-earth guy were presented at the hearing.
Others have described him as a reckless risk taker who has been in trouble before, such as a boating accident in 2009 which put him into a hospital intensive care unit.
But in a report on Sunday, a South African man who said Steenkamp had stayed at his home since September, described Pistorius as moody and impatient. Cecil Myers, whose daughter was close friends with Steenkamp, said in an interview in the City Press newspaper, that Pistorius will have the killing of Steenkamp on his conscience. “I hope he gets a long sentence. Gets what he deserves,” said Myers.
Pistorius appeared “very nice and charming to us when they started dating,” said Myers. Myers said Pistorius initially used to come into the house but later just dropped Steenkamp off and picked her up when they began to date steadily, and he described the change as a lack of respect.
Myers recalled their first date and told the newspaper: “After that he wouldn’t leave her alone. He kept pestering her, phoning and phoning and phoning her.”
According to Myers, Steenkamp “told me he pushed her a bit into a corner. She felt caged in.”
Myers said he told Pistorius “not to force himself on her. Back off.” He said that after initially agreeing with him, it appeared that Pistorius soon took no heed.
Myers declined to respond to a request for more information from Associated Press.
In the bail hearing, a character reference for Pistorius, acknowledged that “the only issue in the relationship that I was made aware of was that Reeva sometimes thought Oscar was moving a little fast.”
Pistorius was born without fibula bones due to a congenital defect and his legs were amputated when he was 11 months old. He has run on carbon-fiber blades and was originally banned from competing against able-bodied peers because many argued that his blades gave him an unfair advantage. He was later cleared to compete. He is a multiple Paralympic medallist , and won a silver medal at the 2011 Daegu world championships with South Africa’s 4×400 relay team. But he failed to win a medal at the London Olympics, where he ran in the 400 metre race and the 4×400 relay race.
AP Sports Writers Gerald Imray contributed from Centurion and John Leicester from Johannesburg. AP Writers Christopher Torchia and Andrew Meldrum contributed from Johannesburg.