Uncle of athlete accused of girlfriend’s murder says he ‘was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time’

South African athlete Oscar Pistorius was planning a future with the woman he allegedly shot, his uncle has said.

Reeva Steenkamp, 29, was allegedly shot four times by Pistorius in what initial reports suggested was an accident but what South African prosecutors are calling premeditated murder.

Arnold Pistorius said in a statement released by his nephew’s agent on Saturday: “They had plans together and Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time.”

He said Pistorius was not guilty of the premeditated murder of the woman he started seeing in November. “After consulting with legal representatives, we deeply regret the allegation of premeditated murder,” Arnold Pistorius said. “We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation and that the state’s own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes [sic] any possibility of a premeditated murder.”

Oscar Pistorius, 26, appeared in court in Pretoria on Friday and broke down in tears when he was accused of the murder of his girlfriend. He was not asked to enter a plea during the 40-minute bail hearing.

His uncle said on Saturday: “We are in a state of total shock – firstly about the tragic death of Reeva who we had all got to know well and care for deeply over the last few months.”