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Pistorius father accused of racist comments

CRITICISED: Henke Pistorius said the government is not protecting white people

COMMENTS REGARDING crime levels in South Africa and the need for guns to protect have enflamed controversy as the country’s ruling party labelled the views from the father of Oscar Pistorius as racist.

Henke Pistorius, whose Paralympian son has been charged with the premeditated murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, told the Telegraph said his son required guns due to the government failing to sufficiently protect the white community.

Pistorius, 26, fatally shot Steenkamp on 14 February in his Pretoria home, but denies murder and said it was an accident of him mistaking her for an intruder.

The government, made up of the African National Congress (ANC), the party of which Nelson Mandela broke apart the apartheid regime in the 1990s, said the remarks from Pistorius’ father were “devoid of truth” and “racist”.

“Some of the guns are for hunting and some are for protection, the hand guns. It speaks to the ANC government, look at white crime levels [sic], why protection is so poor in this country, it's an aspect of our society,” Henke Pistorius is quoted as saying.

The Pistorius family, which, according to local media, owned 55 guns, distanced themselves from the comment; a family publicist said the family was “deeply concerned” about what he had said.

According to AFP, family spokesman Arnold Pistorius said “the Pistorius family own weapons purely for sport and hunting purposes”.

Jackson Mthembu, an ANC spokesman, said the political party “rejects with contempt” the claims that the government is not protecting 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.

“We call on South Africans to desist from wild and prejudiced speculation,” he added in relation to the family disassociating themselves from the view.

“Let us give our courts a chance to deal with this matter.”

After apartheid ended there was a shift in policing practices and resources, with white neighbourhoods having to share services more evenly with other communities. The changes arguably impacted on perceptions of security and vulnerability.

South African police figures reveal serious crime and murder rates have dropped in the country over the last two decades. In 1995/96, more than 27,000 murders were recorded, compared to 15,940 in September 2011 – statistics put the murder rate down by 27.6 per cent.

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