The African National Congress fired back at the father of accused murderer Oscar (Blade Runner) Pistorius, calling his comments that the ANC was not willing to protect white South Africans “racist.”
Henke Pistorius angered black South Africans with his claims and insulted the ANC.
“Not only is this statement devoid of truth, it is also racist. It is sad that he has chosen to politicize a tragic incident that is still fresh in the minds of those affected and the public,” the ANC said in a statement.
Henke Pistorius made his comments to the British dailies The Telegraph and the Daily Mirror, saying that his son needed guns because the ANC government failed to protect its white citizens.
Pistorius is out on bail, awaiting trial in the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at his Pretoria home on February 14, allegedly by mistake.
“This tragic incident has affected two families that are still trying to come to terms with what happened and this latest racist slur is not assisting these families. We think it is ill-advisable for anyone to start apportioning undue blame,” the ANC said. “The ANC believes that the Pistorius and Steenkamp matter is in the capable hands of our competent courts who are expected to handle the matter objectively and in accordance with our laws. Any speculation can only prejudice the case.”
The Pistorius family also issued a statement yesterday, distancing itself from Henke.
The statement said Pistorius’ family was “deeply concerned about the comments made. . . The Pistorius family own weapons purely for sport and hunting purposes,” said Arnold Pistorius, the family spokesperson and the double-amputee athlete’s uncle.
“Henke’s interview with the newspaper was unapproved by our media liaison team,” Arnold Pistorius added. “The comments (don’t) represent the views of Oscar or the rest of the Pistorius family.”
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said: “The ANC believes that this is a difficult period that both families are going through. We call on South Africans to desist from wild and prejudiced speculation. Let us give our courts a chance to deal with this matter.”
In the meantime, some of Pistorius’ friends and former associates are coming forward, saying they aren’t surprised by the shooting.
“It’s like we were waiting for something like this to happen,” Marc Batchelor, a South African soccer player who socialized with Pistorius in South Africa’s glamor and sports circles, told CNN, describing the track star as a someone who “had a trip switch,” quick to get angry and fight.
Batchelor said Pistorius was armed nearly everywhere he went, even applying to become a licensed gun collector so he could buy more guns than the four that South Africans are allowed.
According to boxer Kevin Lerena, another friend, Pistorius once was holding a gun at an outdoor café, showing it to a friend, when it went off.
“That was a major mistake what happened from Oscar’s part, it wasn’t intentional,” Lerena told CNN’s Piers Morgan last month. “And that also could have been a very bad event and something that could have been very tragic. We are all very fortunate that day. And after that event, Oscar was very apologetic.”