Oscar Pistorius has been treated in hospital for wrist injuries from a fall in his prison cell, officials have said. The former athlete, who murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, and his family have denied reports that the injuries were self-inflicted.
The incident happened as the Rio Olympics opened – four years to the day after Pistorius reached the height of his fame as the first double amputee to run in the Games.
According to South Africa’s correctional services department, Pistorius said he suffered the minor injuries when he fell out of bed. His brother, Carl Pistorius, who visited him in hospital after the incident, said he slipped in his cell.
South Africa’s City Press newspaper reported unnamed prison sources saying Pistorius had deliberately injured himself and that razor blades had been found in his cell. It quoted an anonymous security guard at the hospital saying he was being treated for “bad cuts”.
Carl denied these reports, however, saying he had “just seen Oscar and he is doing well given the circumstances”. He said his brother was in good spirits.
In a tweet, Carl added: “I know there are reports saying that he had tried to injure himself – they completely untrue and sensational. All other crazy and unreliable news stories are also baseless.” His brother’s injuries were “nothing serious”.
Pistorius was treated by medical staff at the Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria, then transferred to Kalafong hospital. He was returned to his cell and an investigation was launched.
“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 the official.
Pistorius is serving a six-year jail term for murdering Steenkamp. He shot her through a toilet door in his home in the early hours of 14 February 2013.
He had served a one-year prison sentence for her manslaughter but that conviction was upgraded to murder after a prosecution appeal, leading to a new sentencing.
Last month prosecutors said they would appeal his latest jail sentence, saying it was “shockingly lenient”. Pistorius could be released on parole after three years. South Africa’s minimum sentence for murder is 15 years, but a judge can reduce it.
Pistorius has been held in a single cell in the prison’s hospital wing, reducing his interaction with other inmates.
At his sentencing hearing in June, a psychologist testified for the defence that the athlete was a “broken” man whose mental state had deteriorated over the last two years, and that he should be hospitalised rather than jailed. Prosecutors countered that Pistorius has an aggressive streak and may have played up vulnerabilities in an attempt to win leniency from the judge.
In London, Pistorius qualified for the 400m semifinals before winning two golds in the Paralympics.