Henke Pistorius hugs his son Oscar in court during a rare appearance by the fallen idol's absent father
Henke Pistorius hugs his son Oscar in court during a rare appearance by the fallen idol's absent fatherGetty

Oscar Pistorius was pictured hugging his dad Henke in court during a rare appearance by the accused's father.

But who is Henke Pistorius and what sort of place does he occupy in the fallen star's life?

It is easy to summarise that the relationship between them is not straight-forward from just one incident earlier in the trial, in which Henke blew a large hole in his son's case.

Henke, who is described as a former party animal with a taste for young women, refused a sign a statement confirming his son's claim that he owned some ammunition found in Oscar's home.

This was bad news for the runner because it seriously undermined his defence of a charge of possessing illegal ammo. Oscar has claimed the .38 bullets were only at his home because he was looking after them for Henke.

But dad failed to support son and this was leapt upon by prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who has based a large portion of his case upon painting Oscar Pistorius as deceitful and untruthful.

Henke's reputation has also taken a bashing during the trial from psychiatrist Dr Merryll Vorster.

The shrink testified as a defence witness and claimed Oscar and Henke had been estranged from each other for years. She branded Henke "irresponsible" in his duty as a dad.

"His father did not always contribute to their support [the family] and from his description and that of his siblings; his father was irresponsible and mostly an absent parent."

A relation told African news outlet City Press that Henke and Pistorius's mother Shelia drifted apart following Oscar's double leg amputation as a child.

Shelia died from cancer when Pistorius was just 15, by which time she and Henke had long been divorced.

Henke seems to have occupied a marginal presence in Oscar's life; he was absent from a family holiday last year, for instance.

Further reports speak of bad feeling lasting years between the pair, following a major row when the runner was 21 and on the cusp of stardom.

Henke is thought to have been enjoying a colourful life, fuelled by inherited cash, which he spent on foreign trips and women. But other reports say Henke got much less than his siblings from his tycoon father following the sale of a raft of businesses.

Oscar's main father figure during his formative years appears to have been his uncle Arnold with whom Pistorius has been living with these past few weeks.

Henke has made a very late show at the trial by contrast. The familial hug in court today (Friday) may have been mainly a show of solidarity, disguising a sea of emotions.