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Unexpectedly,focus on Gibbs

Oscar Pistorius is consoled by sister Aimee

Johannesburg: Former South Africa cricketer Herschelle Gibbs found himself under unexpected spotlight during the trial of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius for the alleged murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to the premeditated murder of the 29-year-old model and law graduate, saying he shot her through the toilet door in a tragic accident, having mistaken her for an intruder.

The trial is being broadcast live on television and radio, generating unprecedented public interest.

Gibbs started receiving messages from fans and friends after close-ups on television repeatedly showed the bat with which Pistorius broke down the toilet door prominently featured the cricketer’s autograph, prompting him to tweet about his surprise.

“Just saw my signature on the bat used by the accused in Oscar trial… lol#neveradull moment.”

There was extensive interrogation of state witness Colonel Johannes Vermeulen by both the prosecution and the defence about the bat. A fan of Gibbs commented that the former batsman might be called as a state witness.

Meanwhile, Pistorius will sell the luxury Pretoria home where his girlfriend was shot, to pay his legal expenses due to an unexpected delay in the trial, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Pistorius has been forced to sell his home in the upmarket Silver Woods estate because the legal process is likely to take longer than the three weeks initially indicated by the state, Brian Webber, the lawyer handling the sale, said in a statement.

“It has become necessary to sell Mr. Pistorius’ home in the Silver Woods Country Estate in Pretoria in order for him to raise the necessary funds to cover his increasing legal costs,” Webber said.

“Mr Pistorius has been funding his own defence from the outset. Due to the delay in finalising the trial, the decision to urgently dispose of his single biggest asset, has had to be made.”

Webber added that the property was handed back to the track star by the authorities more than a year ago. Although a decision was taken to keep it sealed until after the trial, Pistorius had been forced to reconsider.

The track star, nicknamed the “Blade Runner”, has not returned to the house since Steenkamp’s killing.

“Mr Pistorius cannot contemplate ever returning to live there again,” Webber said.