Oscar Pistorius’ family have labelled his decision to go to a night club while on trial for murder “unwise”, but justified the 27-year-old’s actions by saying he is “lonely and alienated”.
The South African Olympic and Paralympic track star was apparently involved in an argument with businessman Jared Mortimer while at the Johannesburg club, just days after his legal team wrapped up their defence.
Each man accuses the other of starting the altercation; Mortimer reportedly says Pistorius made offensive comments about his friends, while the athlete’s spokesperson Anneliese Burgess said Mortimer started the argument by beginning to “aggressively interrogate” him about the murder trial.
Pistorius’ uncle Leo put the outburst down to “an extreme level of emotional pain”.
“Oscar is grappling with an extreme level of emotional pain that is manifesting itself in some of his recent unwise actions and choices,” he said in a statement.
“Those of us closest to him have been witness to his escalating sense of loneliness and alienation. This, we believe, is underlying some of his self-harming behaviour.”
Known as “Blade Runner” because he uses carbon-fibre prosthetic running legs, Pistorius is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot dead at his Pretoria home on Valentine’s Day 2013.
The state accuses him of shooting her in cold blood following an argument, however Pistorius claims he mistook her for an intruder hiding in the toilet next to his bedroom.
Both legal teams are preparing their closing arguments, which are due to be heard on August 7.
If convicted of Steenkamp’s murder Pistorius could face life in prison.