Pretoria — Murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius apologised on Monday to the family and friends of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot dead on Valentine's Day last year.
Taking the stand in the High Court in Pretoria, a tearful Pistorius said: "I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Mr and Mrs Steenkamp, to Reeva's family."
"I don't like doing this to you, but I can hardly hear you," interjected Judge Thokozile Masipa.
He continued: "I wake up every morning and you [her family] are the first people I think of, the first people I pray for...
"I was simply trying to protect Reeva."
He said he could promise her family she felt loved when she went to bed that night.
Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and contraventions of the Firearms Control Act.
He said he thought there was an intruder in his house when he shot and killed Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day through the door of a toilet in his Pretoria house last year. She had been spending the night.
He allegedly fired a shot from a Glock pistol under a table at a Johannesburg restaurant in January 2013.
On September 30, 2012 he allegedly shot through the open sunroof of a car with his 9mm pistol while driving with friends in Modderfontein.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.