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'You can't take that bullet back': Pistorius case reminiscent of star rugby player's

By Nic Robertson, CNN
updated 11:57 AM EST, Fri March 1, 2013
  • Rudi Visagie had represented South Africa in a series of international rugby games
  • In 2004, he killed his daughter after mistaking her for a burglar
  • "You are in the situation. You can't take it back ," he says

Nelspruit, South Africa (CNN) -- It's dawn. An international South African sports star bolts out of bed after hearing an "intruder." He takes out a gun and fires one shot, killing a young innocent woman.

But this is not the case of Olympian Oscar Pistorius.

READ: Pistorius case brings South Africa gun culture to global spotlight

In an eerily similar incident in May 2004, former Springbok rugby player Rudi Visagie was awoken by his wife, who heard a car in their driveway in Nelspruit, South Africa.

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The couple thought a robber was taking off with their daughter's car.

Amid heightened fears following their neighbors' killings the week before, he broke a bedroom window and fired at the car, hitting the driver in the neck.

When the car came to a standstill, he ran toward it -- but his daughter's room was empty.

"I heard Rudi growling," his wife, Frieda Visagie, said. "I wondered what's happening now ... and he told me it's Marle in the car."

Their daughter, Marle Visagie, 19, was in the driver's seat.

And in that instant, their lives changed forever.

"It happened that one shot out of a million ... went right through the door and penetrated my daughter through the neck," Visagie said. "She was dead on the site."

Marle Visagie was leaving the house about 5 a.m. to drop off a birthday gift to her boyfriend; she had notified her parents about the plan two weeks prior.

In addition to mourning their daughter, the family was worried that the rugby star would be imprisoned.

"It's my daughter, it's my husband, what's going to happen now," his wife said.

A court ruled that the former rugby player had suffered enough over his daughter's death, and opted not to prosecute him.

Visagie was a household name and had represented South Africa in a series of international rugby games.

READ: Oscar Pistorius' brother Carl accused in 2010 death

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His case closely mirrors that of Pistorius, who fatally shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day, saying he mistook her for an intruder.

Pistorius, a double amputee who made history as the first Paralympic to compete in the able-bodied Olympics, is out on bail as he awaits trial on a premeditated murder charge.

READ: Pistorius details night of girlfriend's death

The track star has said he thought an intruder was hiding in a toilet room inside the bathroom of his Pretoria home. He says he fired in a fit of terror before realizing his girlfriend was inside.

"I can tell him, I feel with you," Visagie said. "You are in the situation. You can't take it back ... you can't take that bullet back."

Pistorius left jail last week after posting a cash bond of about $11,200, with an additional $100,800 due by March 1.

READ: Oscar Pistorius leaves jail after bail granted

Though free pending trial, the man nicknamed "the Blade Runner" has to meet various bail conditions, including giving up alcohol, his passport and can't go near an airport, a judge ruled. He is not allowed to return to the home where the shooting occurred.

Pistorius runs on special carbon fiber blades, hence the nickname. He was born with missing bones in his lower legs, and doctors amputated his legs below the knees when he was 11 months old.

He attained fame as a symbol of triumph over adversity when he competed in the London Olympics last year. While he failed to win a medal there, he smashed a record to win the men's 400-meter race in the Paralympic Games a few weeks later.

READ: Who is 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius?

The hardest thing

The former rugby player said he sympathizes with the sprinter.

People in such situations go through a lot of emotions, including fear, anger and helplessness, Frieda Visagie said.

"I didn't want to talk in front of people -- that was the hardest thing for me to do," her husband said

Despite the heartbreak, his Christian faith has helped him through the tough times. Now he travels throughout the country, counseling trauma victims.

"I just want to encourage him (Pistorius) and say listen, there are a lot of people praying for you," he said.

And should he need to talk, Visagie said, he is ready to help.

READ: Pistorius case: South Africa's legal system in the spotlight

CNN's Faith Karimi contributed to this report from Atlanta

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