Gun comments split Oscar Pistorius’ family

Johannesburg: The family of Paralympian superstar Oscar Pistorius, who is charged with murdering his girlfriend, is feuding publicly over the debate whether guns are a necessary protection against crime in South Africa.

Henke Pistorius, Pistorius` father was quoted as saying the family owns handguns for self-defense and suggesting that South Africa`s government shares blame for "white crime levels" in a country where about 15,000 cases of murder are registered every year.

In a statement today quoting the runner`s uncle, Arnold Pistorius, the family subsequently distanced itself from the father`s comments.

The statement said the family "is deeply concerned about the comments" and that they don`t "represent the views of Oscar or the rest of the Pistorius family."

The track star shot Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 with his 9 mm pistol.

Prosecutors charged Pistorius with premeditated murder, to which he said that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruded in the bathroom.

His uncle, who has acted as the family spokesman following Steenkamp`s killing, said in the statement that "the Pistorius family own weapons purely for sport and hunting purposes."

That contradicts Oscar Pistorius` testimony to the magistrate who freed him on bail.

In an affidavit, the athlete known as "Blade Runner" for his carbon-fibre prosthetic running legs said he owned the 9 mm handgun and slept with it under his bed because he feared burglars.

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 September 10, 2010.

According to the Daily Telegraph of London, Henke Pistorius said some of the family`s guns "are for hunting and some are for protection, the hand guns. 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."

The family`s response to those comments was issued by Vuma, a reputation management firm it has hired to deal with media questions following Steenkamp`s killing.