South African Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius plans to sell the upmarket $460,000 house in Silver Woods Estate in Pretoria, where he shot dead his girlfriend last year, to cover the legal fees for his murder trial.
[link id=”391″ tax=”post_tag” text=”Oscar Pistorius”] denies the premeditated murder of Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year, saying he shot her in a tragic accident after mistaking the model for a night-time intruder.
The 27-year-old Paralympic athlete has been paying his own legal fees since the shooting, according to a statement from his lawyer Brian Webber.
The costs – reportedly as high as $9,000 a day – are said to include at least three full-time lawyers in court, ballistics and forensics experts as well as an American crime scene reconstruction company.
“It has become necessary to sell Mr Pistorius’s home in the Silver Woods Country Estate in Pretoria in order for him to raise the necessary funds to cover his increasing legal costs,” Mr Webber said.
“This is due to the unexpected extension of the trial beyond the initial three-week period for which it was originally set down.”
Estate agent Ansie Louw, who is handling the sale, told AFP the house will be sold in a closed bid, starting at five million rand ($460,000).
Since the shooting Pistorius has been living at his uncle’s house in Pretoria.
Authorities turned the runner’s home in the gated community back over to him more than a year ago and he had planned to keep it sealed until the trial finished.
“He has been forced to revisit this decision,” Mr Webber said, adding that the statement was meant to pre-empt media speculation about the sale.
Pistorius valued the house at five million rand during his bail application in February last year.
At the time he also owned two other houses with a combined value of 1.5 million rand in Pretoria and a vacant plot worth 1.6 million rand in Cape Town.
All his properties together were worth 8.3 million rand, the sporting hero told the court.
Prosecutors have charged the double-amputee sprinter with intentionally killing Steenkamp, 29, and are expected to wrap up their case early next week.
Pistorius had his lower legs amputated as a baby, but he overcame the disability to become the “fastest man on no legs”, running on carbon-fibre “blades” to win gold medals at the Beijing and London Paralympics.
He also reached the 400 metres semi-finals at the London Olympics, competing against able-bodied athletes.
But he has fallen on hard times since the shooting, and lost many of the endorsement deals that earned him some $510,000 a year.
His trial opened on March 3, and witnesses have testified to hearing a woman’s terrified screams in the dead of night, followed by gunshots.
He was not wearing his artificial legs at the time of the shooting and said this made him feel vulnerable and panicky, part of the reasoning behind his plea of not guilty to the murder of Steenkamp.
The trial resumes on Monday.