Oscar Pistorius’ Father Pulls the Race Card

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“I have been in positions where I can use a gun but we have been brought up in a way that we value the lives of others very highly,” he said.

Prosecutors charged Pistorius with premeditated murder for killing Steenkamp, saying the shooting followed an argument between the two. Pistorius said he mistook the 29-year-old model for a home intruder, fired shots at the door of his toilet and then discovered she was inside.

The family statement said: “Oscar Pistorius’s family is deeply concerned about the comments made by Oscar’s father, Henke Pistorius, to UK newspaper the Telegraph about the family using its weapons to defend themselves against crime in South Africa, and especially about his comments that the ANC government is not willing to protect white South Africans.”

It also quoted Arnold Pistorius, the runner’s uncle who has taken on a spokesman’s role following Steenkamp’s killing, as saying that “the Pistorius family own weapons purely for sport and hunting purposes.”

That, however, contradicted Pistorius’ own testimony to the magistrate who freed him on bail.

In an affidavit, the athlete known as “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fiber prosthetic running legs said he slept with his 9 mm handgun under his bed because “I have also been a victim of violence and of burglaries before.”

The South African police say they register more than 15,000 murders a year. The South African Police Service’s National Firearms Center said Pistorius registered the 9 mm for self-defense. Police issued him with his gun license on Sept. 10, 2010.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said it “rejects with contempt” the suggestion that the ANC government doesn’t adequately protect white South Africans against crime.

“Not only is this statement devoid of truth, it is also racist,” Mthembu said in a statement. “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 family’s response to Henke Pistorius’ comments was issued by the reputation management firm, Vuma, it has hired to deal with the media. The statement said “Henke’s interview with the newspaper was unapproved by our media liaison team.”

Media reports have said Pistorius and his father were estranged before Steenkamp’s death. But the father was seen comforting the sprinter when he sobbed during his bail hearing.

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