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South Africans ‘struggling’ with Pistorius shooting

  • Oscar Pistorius, nicknamed the 'Blade Runner,' is accused of killing his girlfriend; he says he is innocent
  • CNN producer: 'When Reeva's name is mentioned he 
invariably breaks down'

The Oscar Pistorius shooting has captured the world’s attention, but the focus is even more intense in South Africa, where the story is unfolding.

CNN’s Diane McCarthy, a Johannesburg-based producer, said, “The country is completely consumed by the story.”

And what a story it is: Pistorius, just months after being hailed internationally as an Olympic hero for his exploits during the London Games, is charged in the shooting death of a woman in his home.

McCarthy has attended Pistorius’ bond hearing this week and says what happened between Pistorius and his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day is a common topic of conversation among locals.

“The general public is not sure what to believe anymore. When the news first broke, South Africa responded with complete disbelief. ‘Not our Oscar!’ was 
the overwhelming opinion," she said.

"But feelings changed over the weekend when several damning pieces of evidence leaked to the press. The public called for 
the law to take its course and find Oscar guilty of murder. Now it seems some of the evidence may be unfounded, and South Africans are struggling to make 
sense of it all. People want to believe he is innocent,” said McCarthy.

Read more: Shock: 'Blade Runner' charged in girlfriend's death

The Olympic track star told a South African judge in a statement read by his attorney Tuesday that he was "deeply” in love with his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, and that the shooting was accidental.

“I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated murder because I had no intention to kill my girlfriend,” said Pistorius in his statement.

Pistorius said he thought he fired the gun at an intruder, but was horrified to find out he killed his girlfriend.

Read more: Pistorius' slain girlfriend laid to rest

“I tried to help her but she died in my arms. I am mortified,” said Pistorius in his statement.

The magistrate upgraded the charge against Pistorius this week to premeditated murder, saying he could not rule out the possibility that Pistorius planned the killing.

However, the magistrate has yet to determine whether Pistorius will remain in custody as he awaits his trial.

McCarthy says Pistorius looks meek and timid at times in the courtroom.

“Pistorius is very quiet, very isolated. He arrives quickly, takes a few 
steps into the dock and stands still, hands clasped loosely in front of him. 
When court starts, he sits down promptly, always displaying great economy of 
movement," she said.

"He listens to the proceedings with head bowed, sometimes looking 
up briefly when interested at a point under discussion, at other times he 
bows his head a little lower, creating a picture of vulnerability. His close -cropped hair exposing a long neck. When Reeva's name is mentioned he 
invariably breaks down,” said McCarthy.

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