JOHANNESBURG, Mar 5 – The family of star sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who is charged with murdering his girlfriend, on Tuesday rejected his father’s assertion that South Africa’s high crime rates necessitated gun ownership.
The family was “deeply concerned” about the comments Henke Pistorius made to the British newspaper The Telegraph, the family’s publicist said in a statement.
Henke Pistorius said his family’s 55 guns were for protection against the high crime levels against whites under the ANC government.
But family spokesman Arnold Pistorius said that “the Pistorius family own weapons purely for sport and hunting purposes.”
“The comments doesn’t (sic) represent the views of Oscar or the rest of the Pistorius family,” he added.
Prosecutors have charged the Paralympic and Olympic athlete with the premeditated murder of Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day.
Pistorius denies this, saying he shot Steenkamp repeatedly through a locked bathroom door having mistaken her for an intruder.
The incident happened at his house inside a high security housing estate, east of the capital Pretoria.
Police recovered a 9mm pistol at the scene of the shooting.
Several reports of the double amputee’s fascination with guns have emerged since his arrest.
In January the sprinter, who is a member of a firearm collectors association, accidentally discharged a friend’s pistol at an upmarket Johannesburg restaurant.
The court also heard that he had pending gun licences for several firearms.
Henke Pistorius’s interview had not been cleared with the family’s “media liaison team”, said Arnold Pistorius.
The ruling African National Congress rejected Pistorius’s remarks “with contempt” and described them as “racist.”
“Not only is this statement devoid of truth, it is also racist. It is sad that he has chosen to politicise a tragic incident,” the ANC said in a statement.
Official statistics show that 42 people are killed per day in South Africa, and crime is rife in poor overcrowded areas.
According to Gun Free South Africa, there were 1.5 million licensed gun owners and 2.9 million registered guns in 2011. The population is around 52 million people.