The South African police, and the government have a lot of injustices and failures that can be laid at their door, but the actions of Oscar Pistorius on Valentine’s Day is not one of them.
Henke Pistorius, father of Oscar, recently linked the killing of the model Reeva Steenkampf to alleged failings by the South African police, the ANC government, and to violent crime by black South Africans.
He told the Telegraph that these factors combined to compel South Africans to arm themselves for protection.
Pistorius senior is clearly clutching at straws to explain what could have led to the disastrous decision taken by Oscar to blindly shoot at an ‘unseen would-be assailant’ in his bathroom, as he claims happened, who turned out to be Reeva.
The implication is that the fear of crime is so high that everyone, particularly wealthy white South Africans, is trigger-happy.
Henke’s nonsensical claims, probably commonly held in white farming communities, are not borne out in official statistics, which show a steady fall in most crimes, including violent crime.
Over an eight year period, South African police statistics show that contact crime (murder, attempted murder, sexual offences, assault, GBH, common assault, and aggravating & common robbery) has fallen by 35.5 per cent.
Oscar’s father points to the high levels of murders of white farmers in robberies, as a further reason for the very high levels of gun ownership in South Africa.
Calls for these murders to be awarded a special crime category, or even regarded as white genocide, have been rejected by South African police, who deny that they are race-based murders or have a hate element.
The extreme brutality of these murders is not just a hallmark of the farm murders, but of violent crime in general in South Africa.
The use of these factors to justify heavy gun ownership by the Pistorius family, evidently for leisure and protection, is a smokescreen to mask the very big questions Oscar will have to find answers to in his murder trial.
The wider Pistorius family have now rejected Henke’s comments, which are not borne out by the evidence and cast a negative light on the black population, itself still struggling in post Apartheid South Africa.
The perception of a vulnerable, white wealthy community, forced to live barricaded in gated settings, to fend off a constant onslaught of violent crime by black people is a picture South Africa does not recognise.
The fears of the international community when the football World Cup was awarded in 2010 was based on such scaremongering, but were proved unfounded with the delivery of a largely crime free tournament.
The South African police, and the government have a lot of injustices and failures that can be laid at their door, but the actions of Oscar Pistorius on Valentine’s Day is not one of them.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.