Prosecutors call for Pistorius to undergo mental health assessment


By Zjan Shirinian

Prosecutors in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius have asked the six-time Paralympic champion undergo a mental health assessment at a state hospital.

The dramatic request came after psychiatrist Merryll Vorster told the court in Pretoria Pistorius has had an anxiety disorder since childhood.

She said it was the result of surgery to remove his lower legs when he was 11, which she called a “traumatic assault”, adding he was anxious about violent crime.

The court was told by Vorster that the actions of Pistorius on February 14 last year “should be seen in context of his anxiety”.

Pistorius shot his 29-year-old girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead when he fired four bullets through a toilet door in his home in Pretoria.

He claims he did so thinking there was an intruder in his home but the prosecution argue he shot Steenkmap deliberately after a row between the couple.

Oscar Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year, but insists it was an accident ©AFP/Getty ImagesOscar Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year, but insists it was an accident ©AFP/Getty Images

Pistorius’ defence team has opposed the application for their client to undergo a mental health assessment, which could see him spend up to 30 days in a hospital for observation.

Judge Thokozile Masipa will decide whether to grant the request.

It is expected the case for the defence will be concluded this week, ahead of closing statements from both sides.

Psychiatrist Vorster said Pistorius “feels guilty and has developed a depressive disorder as a result” of the death of Steenkamp.

She added the reactions of the athlete on the night he killed Steenkamp would have been different to that of a “normal, able-bodied person without generalised anxiety disorder”.