Oscar Pistorius faces murder charges
South African 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius is escorted by police at a Pretoria police station. - Reuters

South African Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, who faces charges of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, is due to appear at the Pretoria magistrates court where it will be decided whether he will be granted bail.

The Paralympian had spent the night in a police station following the discovery of the death of Steenkamp from gunshot wounds. As experts investigate the death, more details are likely to emerge soon.

Police arrested Pistorius after neighbours raised an alarm over gunfire sounds.

Steenkamp, 29, was shot four times on her head and the authorities have also found a 9mm pistol.

On the eve of Valentine's Day, Steenkamp wrote on her Twitter account: "What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow??? It should be a day of love for everyone :) may it be blessed!"

The murder charges have come at a time when the country has been hailing the 26-year-old athlete as a national icon.

The double amputee had won two gold medals and one silver medal at the London Paralympics last summer. The athlete, who is often called "blade runner", was also the first double amputee to participate in the Olympic Games.

Although initial reports suggested that Pistorius would have mistaken his girlfriend for a burglar, authorities ruled out the possibility. Many inhabitants in South Africa legally hold weapons in order to confront intruders.

"There was no sign of forced entry or persons who weren't supposed to be there at this stage. There were only two people on the premises: the resident and the deceased," said police spokesperson Denise Beukes.

She added that authorities have been earlier called to the same house to deal with "allegations of domestic nature".

Meanwhile, Steenkamp's family has been devastated by the incident. Mike Steenkamp, the victim's uncle, told eNews Channel Africa:"I must just say that her future has been cut short. The family are devastated. How it pans out, at the end of the day we will all know the true story. We must never forget what Reeva stood for. She loved people, she loved everybody, her heart went out. At least we know exactly what she accomplished in the past."