The family of South African athlete, Oscar Pistorius, who is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, has distanced itself from his father’s comments that guns are needed because of high levels of crime.
Henke Pistorius told the UK’s Telegraph newspaper that his son needed guns because of the government’s failure to protect the white community.
In ‘contemptuous rejection’ of Henke’s cliaims, the governing African National Congress (ANC) said his comments amounted to racism.
Oscar Pistorius denies murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on February 14. He says he mistook her for a burglar when he shot her dead.
Ms Steenkamp died from multiple sustained while she was in the toilet of his top floor apartment in a gated housing complex in Pretoria.
Pistorius was released on bail on February 22 and is due to appear in court again in June. He is charged with the premeditated murder of Ms Steenkamp.
The Pistorius family owns 55 guns, the local Beeld newspaper reports. “Some of the guns are for hunting and some (the hand guns) for protection.
“Look at the level of crime againstwhite nationals. Why is their protection so poor in this country? We are part of society, you know,” The Telegraph quotes Henke Pistorius as saying.
Family owns 55 guns
The family was “deeply concerned” about his comments, the family’s publicist said in a statement, AFP news agency reports.
Family spokesman, Arnold Pistorius, said: “The Pistorius family owns weapons purely for sport and hunting purposes, and not for the objective implied by his (Henke) comments,” reads the report. “The comments do not represent the views of Oscar or the rest of the Pistorius family,” he said. ANC spokesman, Jackson Mthembu, said the party “rejects with contempt” Henke Pistorius’ claim that the government was not willing to protect white people.
“Not only is this statement devoid of truth, it is also racist. It is sad that he has chosen to politicise a tragic incident that is still fresh in the minds of those affected, and the public,” he said, adding that the ANC welcomed the family’s decision to distance itself from the comments.
“We call on South Africans to desist from making wild and prejudiced speculation, on such sensitive issues,” he said. “Let us give our courts a chance to deal with this matter.”
BBC analyst, Farouk Chothia, says many white people led a sheltered life during apartheid, when a highly militarised police force carried out regular patrols in their areas and kept crime rates low. BBC Sport