PRETORIA - Oscar Pistorius, who was sentenced to six years' jail in July for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, was rushed to hospital on Sunday (Aug 7) with minor injuries to his wrists, prison authorities said, amid reports that the disgrace Paralympic gold medallist tried to harm himself in prison.
Pistorius denied that his injuries were the result of a suicide attempt, a spokesman at the department of correctional services was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“Oscar Pistorius denied speculations of a suicide attempt. As a policy principle we cannot further discuss a particular offender’s personal condition in the public domain,” said Manelisi Wolela, a spokesman at the Department of Correctional Services. He said the former track star had been returned to custody following treatment.
Pistorius’ family spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess told Reuters the family would not issue a statement at this stage.
The City Press had earlier reported that the athlete was taken to Pretoria’s Kalafong Hospital on Saturday afternoon at around 12.30pm with wrist injuries.
Prison authorities cited by the South African newspaper said Pistorius told them he had injured himself falling out of bed of his single hospital prison cell.
But a prison source told City Press that Pistorius had injured himself intentionally and that blades were found in his cell at the notorious Kgosi Mampuru II prison.
“He had bad cuts on his wrists and the doctors kept wrapping bandages around them,” said one of the sources.
Pistorius, they said, was guarded at the hospital by more than 10 warders.
Pistorius was later returned to his hospital cell, prison services spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo told Agence France-Presse.
“He’s back in our care now,” Nxumalo said. When asked about the report, the official said: “We can’t confirm that, it’s only speculation.”
Disgraced sprinter Pistorius won gold medals at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Paralympics in Athens, Beijing and London respectively.
The 29-year-old, whose legs are amputated below the knees when he was a baby, shot Steenkamp at their home dead on Valentine's Day 2013, claiming he mistook his partner for an intruder.
He was originally found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to five years' jail. He was freed from prison last October after almost a year behind bars and was to serve the remainder the jail term under house arrest at his uncle's house in a wealthy suburb of the South Africa capital.
But his conviction was later upgraded to murder on appeal by the prosecution. The resulting sentence, decided by the same judge, was just one year longer than the original one.
South African prosecutors have said they will appeal against the six-year term, which they called “shockingly lenient”.
Pistorius did not appeal the new sentence. He is eligible for parole after serving between half to two-thirds of his sentence.
The disgraced former superstar athelete is kept in the same cell in Pretoria's Kgosi Mampuru prison where he was previously incarcerated for one year due to his disability, it has been reported.
South Africa's often overcrowded prisons are notorious for gang violence and sexual assaults.