PRETORIA, South Africa, March 6 (UPI) -- Paralympian runner Oscar Pistorius, accused in his girlfriend's death, distanced himself from his dad's comments about South Africa's government and crime.
The runner's father, Henke Pistorius, told Britain's The Daily Telegraph Sunday that he and other family members owned 55 guns because they couldn't count on police protection against criminals, blaming South Africa's violent crime rates on the ANC-led government.
"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 said. "You can't rely on the police, not because they are inefficient always but because crime is so rife."
Oscar Pistorius is charged in the Feb. 14 shooting death of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, through a locked bathroom door in his Pretoria home. He said he fired because he thought she was a burglar, but prosecutors said he shot her after a fight.
Oscar Pistorius and other family members tried to put some space between themselves and Henke Pistorius' remarks, the Telegraph reported Tuesday.
"Oscar Pistorius' family is deeply concerned about the comments made by Oscar's father, Henke Pistorius, to 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," the runner said in a statement.
"Oscar and the rest of the Pistorius family distance [themselves] from the comments," the statement said. "The comments don't represent the views of Oscar or the rest of the Pistorius family."
Jackson Mthembu, ANC's national spokesman, said in a statement Henke Pistorius' statement was "racist" and accused him of trying to "politicize" a "tragic incident."
"The African National Congress rejects with contempt the accusation made by Henke Pistorius to a U.K. newspaper that 'the ANC government is not willing to protect white South Africans,'" Mthembu said. "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."
Oscar Pistorius, whose legs were amputated, won two gold medals and a silver medal at the 2012 London Paralympic games. He also was the first paraplegic runner to participate in the able-bodied games in London.