South African athlete and convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius has returned to his cell after being treated in hospital for injuries from a fall, prison officials said Sunday, as his brother denied claims he had deliberately hurt himself.
Pistorius, sentenced to six years in jail for murdering his girlfriend, “had to be detained Saturday afternoon at the hospital after falling off his bed,” prison services spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo said, adding: “He’s back in our care now.”
But a South African newspaper reported that the double-amputee sprinter, the only athlete to have competed in both Paralympic and Olympic races, was treated for cuts on his wrists.
According to City Press, citing another inmate at the prison, Pistorius had to go to hospital after deliberately harming himself.
“Two warders with knowledge of the hospital section said blades were subsequently found in Pistorius’s cell during a search yesterday afternoon,” the newspaper said.
It also said a security guard at Kalafong Hospital in Pretoria where Pistorius was taken said the 29-year-old “had bad cuts on his wrists and the doctors kept wrapping bandages around them.”
– ‘Untrue and sensational’ –
Pistorius’s brother Carl however rejected what he called “sensational” media reports.
“We have just seen Oscar and he is doing well,” Carl Pistorius said on Twitter Sunday.
“I know that there are reports saying that he had tried to injure himself — they are completely untrue and sensational. He slipped in his cell and injured himself, nothing serious.”
When asked about the report of cut wrists, Nxumalo said he couldn’t “discuss details on a particular offender’s personal conditions in the public domain.”
Pistorius was convicted of shooting dead his partner Reeva Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013, saying he mistook her for a burglar when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.
Pistorius, who pleaded not guilty at his trial in 2014, has always denied killing Steenkamp in a rage, saying he was trying to protect her.
The Paralympian gold medallist known as the “Blade Runner” for the carbon fibre prosthetics he wore to compete was previously a role model for disabled people worldwide.
He is now “broke and broken” according to his lawyer, alone in a cell in the medical wing of the Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria, where he has been serving out his six-year sentence due to his handicap.
But the high-profile legal proceedings also exposed a darker side of the star athlete: offering glimpses of a dangerously volatile man with a penchant for guns, beautiful women and fast cars.
After first being found guilty of culpable homicide, equivalent to manslaughter, an appeal court upgraded his conviction to murder in December last year.
South African prosecutors have called his sentence “shockingly too lenient” and said last month they would seek to appeal against it.
At his sentencing, High Court judge Thokozile Masipa had listed mitigating factors for giving him less than half the minimum 15-year term for murder, including the athlete’s claim he believed he was shooting an intruder.
“He cannot be at peace. I’m of the view that a long term of imprisonment will not serve justice,” Masipa said.