Pistorius family split by comments on gun protection

Wed, Mar 6, 2013, 00:00

The family of murder-accused Oscar Pistorius have distanced themselves from the athlete’s father after he said they needed guns for protection because the police were failing to protect white South Africans from crime.

The athlete, known as the Blade Runner because of the carbon fibre blades he uses to race on, has been keeping a low profile since his release on bail 12 days ago.

He is said to be concentrating on his defence for the forthcoming trial for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp (29) in the early hours of St Valentine’s morning at his Pretoria home. He denies the charge and claims he shot her by accident, thinking she was a burglar.

However, this short period of relative calm for the Pistorius clan has been shattered by comments made by the Paralympian’s father to Britain’s Daily Telegraph.

Henke Pistorius reportedly said in an interview published yesterday that his family could not rely on the South African police to protect them and that was why they owned such a large arsenal of weapons.

Records show that six members of the Pistorius family, including Oscar, own 56 guns between them, ranging from handguns to rifles.

“Some of the guns are for hunting and some are for protection, the handguns. It speaks to the ANC government; look at white crime levels, why protection is so poor in this country, it’s an aspect of our society,” Mr Pistorius snr was quoted saying.

“You can’t rely on the police, not because they are inefficient always, but because crime is so rife.”

The interview appears to have split the Pistorius family, forcing them to undertake a damage limitation exercise in the form of issuing a public statement.

‘Deeply concerned’

Shortly after the interview was published yesterday, the gold medal winner’s family said it was “deeply concerned about the comments made” and that it distanced themselves from them.

“Henke’s interview . . . was unapproved by our media liaison team,” Arnold Pistorius, the athlete’s uncle, said. “The comments don’t represent the views of Oscar or the rest of the Pistorius family.” He added: “We are acutely aware of the fact that we are only at the beginning of a long road to prove that what happened to Reeva Steenkamp was a terrible accident and that Oscar never intended to harm her, let alone cause her death.”

Mr Pistorius’s views have also drawn the ruling African National Congress into a row over what the party believes is his politicising of the shooting.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said in a statement that not only was his remark “devoid of truth”and calling Mr Pistorius’s comments a “racist slur” that did not help either the Paralympian or Ms Steenkamp’s family.