Oscar Pistorius formally charged over murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

An emotional Oscar Pistorius appeared before a Pretoria magistrates court today and was formally charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Before the hearing began, an emotional Pistorius could be seen holding hands and praying with his two siblings Aimee and Carl., who stood behind him during proceedings.

Friends of Ms Steenkamp were also present at today's hearing.

Papers presented at court today included a witness list and details of the evidence police have gathered. Witnesses who will be called to the stand during the trial will include former footballer Mark Batchelor, his ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor and his uncle Arnold, according to South African journalist Barry Bateman.

Pistorius' trial date has been set for 3 March 2014 at the North Gauteng High Court and his bail conditions remain the same.

Pistorius is accused of the premeditated murder of Ms Steenkamp on Valentine's night,a charge which he denies. The 26-year-old claims he shot the 29-year-old because he had mistaken her for an intruder.

The six-time Paralympic sprint champion was initially charged with premeditated murder for bail purposes while police investigated the circumstances of the shooting.

State prosecutors will retain a main charge of premeditated murder. Pistorius faces a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in prison if convicted.

He also faces a separate charge of contravention of the Firearms Control Act.

Pistorius is currently on bail after a judge changed his conditions in March, allowing him to travel abroad providing he hands over his travel plans.