Oscar Pistorius broke down in tears in a Pretoria courtroom as the date for his murder trial over the killing of Reeva Steenkamp was set.
Paralympian Pistorius held hands with relations ahead of being told that the trial would start on 3 March, 2014.
Pistorius admitted shooting dead Steenkamp, 29, a model, on Valentine's Day at his luxury home but denies murder.
The hearing to set the date took place on what would have been Steenkamp's 30th birthday.
Pistorius, 26, claimed that he shot his girlfriend after mistaking her for an intruder.
Prosecutors maintain that he killed her following a row. The jail sentence for premeditated murder in South Africa is life with a 25-year minimum tariff. They also charged him with possession of illegal ammunition.
Pistorius was flanked by relations on his return to the spotlight, after shunning the public eye since Steenkamp's death.
His hair was longer than previously and he appeared in an emotional state. Reports said he appeared to be praying with his brother and sister shortly before proceedings began. Pistorius held hands with them and wiped his face with a tissue.
Steenkamp's uncle, Mike Steenkamp, told ITV's Daybreak of how the family has dealt with her death.
"From the beginning we decided that we could never be sidetracked from Reeva's life and that's helped us tremendously," he said.
"I just think of Reeva's life. How happy she was, and what she actually meant to the family. Not only to her own parents, but to her cousins and myself and my wife. She was an exceptional person.
"We haven't attended anything and we haven't actually applied our minds to the court case or Oscar's side.
"I know my brother and his wife would like to know at the end of the day why [what happened]. And I think that will come out."
More than 100 witnesses are expected to testify in Pretoria.