Oscar Pistorius finds a new love as ex prepares to testify against him

2014-03-02 14:00

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Paralympian falls for paramedic as ex-girlfriend is set to testify at his trial.

It was a tropical holiday romance for Oscar Pistorius and Leah Skye Malan, who was revealed this weekend to be the Paralympian’s new girlfriend.

Pistorius, who goes on trial tomorrow for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, met Malan while on holiday in the Mozambique resort of Inhambane in December.

Malan (19) is a first-year student paramedic at the University of Johannesburg and hails from Potchefstroom, where her father, Andre, owns an estate agency.

Britain’s Mail Online reported yesterday the two had since been on a number of dates.

“They both seem really into each other. She’s helped support him through this difficult time and has introduced him to her family,” a source was quoted as saying.

A holiday maker in Inhambane at the time told City Press’ sister newspaper, Rapport, that Pistorius and Malan kept things discreet while they were together.

“They weren’t kissing or holding hands or anything. Their most intimate exchange was when they shared a bottle of water,” the holiday maker said, adding the two were never alone and always part of a group.

Malan, an avid horse rider, tried to keep the relationship quiet, but a classmate took her photograph on the sly and sold the story of her new romance to British tabloid The Sun, which published the story on Friday.

This week, Malan’s personal information disappeared from social-media sites. The young student, who has to do practical work as part of her course, is based at a Joburg fire station.

Calls to both Malan and her father’s phone went unanswered yesterday.

Asked for comment on Pistorius’ new girlfriend, his uncle Arnold released a statement late yesterday afternoon saying the family “will not be distracted by extraneous issues”.

He wrote: “We will not be commenting on any media reports, nor will we be engaging the press on any issues that belong in court. The time for public commentary is over. The focus is now entirely on a very serious trial that is set to start this Monday.

“We love Oscar, and believe in him, and will be standing by him throughout the coming trial.”

Ex-lover to spill the beans

On Wednesday, Oscar Pistorius’ former girlfriend, Samantha Taylor, will fly to Joburg from her Cape Town home to testify about his obsession with guns.

Samantha Taylor and her mother, Trish.

Taylor, whose 18-month relationship with the Paralympian ended shortly before he began seeing Steenkamp, is one of 107 witnesses on the prosecution’s list.

A source close to the Pistorius family said Taylor was “obviously” on the witness list because she is Pistorius’ former girlfriend. The source also said Taylor would “probably” testify about Pistorius’ fondness for guns, but said the family was not concerned about her testimony.

Asked why, the source said: “Wait and see.”

Despite the family’s apparent lack of concern, Taylor’s testimony is believed to be explosive.

Shortly after Pistorius shot Steenkamp dead in his up-market home in Pretoria’s Silver Lakes estate, Taylor’s mother wrote on Facebook: “I am so glad that Sammy is safe and sound, and out of the clutches of that man.

“There were a few occasions where things could have gone wrong with her and his gun during the time they dated.”

Taylor’s father, Henry, said two days later: “I have no sympathy for Oscar. I am glad my daughter is safe and that she got out of that relationship in time.”

Several sources this week spoke of how Pistorius often promised Taylor’s mother he would seek counselling to help him control his temper.

Many who have dealt with Pistorius have spoken of his violent rages.

Also on the witness list is TV producer Quentin van der Bergh, whose legs Pistorius allegedly threatened to break after he began dating Taylor.

Soccer player Mark Batchelor, who allegedly faced similar threats, is also on the list.

Pistorius’ coach, Ampie Louw, believes that his obsession with guns is a normal “boy thing” and that his infamous temper quickly blows over.

“Oscar is a verbal guy. He gets grumpy when it doesn’t go his way, then he will be verbal, but the next day he will normally say sorry,” he said.

“We went to Imola [in Italy]?...?Something irritated Oscar and he totally lost it. I got in the car with Oscar next to me?...?and Oscar touched my leg and said: ‘Sorry coach, I still love you.’ So that’s the type of person he is.”

Taylor’s mother, Trish, was like a mother to Pistorius, whose mother died of cancer when he was 15 years old. So close was he to the Taylors he regularly stayed with them at their home in northern Joburg. Trish repeatedly tried to persuade Pistorius to go for counselling and said she did not want her daughter to be involved with him if he did not.

Samantha and her parents refused to comment this week, as did police working on the case.

Police and prosecutors have thrown a virtual cordon around witnesses, who are under strict instructions not to speak to the media. Pistorius’ apparent obsession with guns was again cast in the spotlight this weekend.

On Friday, British TV network Sky News aired a piece of footage showing Pistorius at a shooting range shooting a watermelon placed at head height next to a target. In the clip, Pistorius is with Springbok rugby player Francois Hougaard, with whom Steenkamp was also once romantically involved.

After blowing the watermelon apart, a voice ­believed to be that of Pistorius says: “It’s not as soft as brains, but f**k it’s like a zombie stopper.”

The footage also shows Pistorius firing his 9mm pistol at the same range, the gun the channel ­reported was used to shoot Steenkamp with.

Yesterday morning, Pistorius’ uncle Arnold, brother Carl and some of their extended family ate lunch at the Hazel Food Market in Menlopark, Pretoria.

Several cousins and aunts were seated at a long table, but Pistorius was nowhere in sight. Arnold and Carl joked and chatted loudly, and one of the relatives was overheard saying: “Oscar is a bit nervous.”

Arnold Pistorius declined to comment.

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