The father of South African Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius recently incited the ire of the country’s ruling political party, the African National Congress (ANC) and his own family when he accused the South African government of refusing to protect whites.
Henke Pistorius told the media that the Pistorius family owns so many guns because they have to defend themselves against high levels of violence against whites, given that the ANC-ruled government refuses to do so.
According to a South African newspaper, Henke, Oscar’s grandfather Hendrik and his uncles Arnold, Theo and Leo own a total of 55 shotguns and handguns.
“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,” he told the paper. “You can’t rely on the police, not because they are inefficient always but because crime is so rife.”
Reports say that Oscar Pistorius had begun collecting guns in the months preceding the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. She was killed when Pistorius shot her with a 9mm gun he kept under his bed. Oscar has been charged with murder.
Although South Africa’s crime rate has dropped nearly 30 percent since 2004, the country still has some of the highest rates of violent crime in the world.
The ANC responded by calling Henke’s comments racist.
“Not only is this statement devoid of truth, it is also racist,” ANC spokesman Jackson 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.”
During apartheid, white neighborhoods had heavy police presence aimed at keeping Blacks out and keeping crime low. Since the end of the racist regime, analysts say white South Africans began feeling more vulnerable to crime when policing resources were spread from predominantly white areas to predominantly Black areas.
In the wake of the comments, the Pistorius family distanced itself from Henke by issuing a statement on Oscar’s website, denouncing Henke’s statement about the reason the family owns guns.
“The Pistorius family own weapons purely for sport and hunting purposes,” said Arnold Pistorius, family spokesperson, in the statement. “The comment doesn’t represent the views of Oscar or the rest of the Pistorius family.”