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ANC women bemoan celebrity treatment for Pistorius

Published on 21/02/2013

Members of the Women's League of the ruling African National Congress on Thursday accused authorities of giving "special treatment" to Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius who stands charged of murdering his girlfriend.

Pistorius is accused of shooting dead his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home a week ago, in a case that has hogged local and international headlines.

Members of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) are unhappy about him being kept in police holding cells rather than a prison during bail proceedings.

“The ANCWL would like to register our dissatisfaction at this special treatment that Pistorius is getting and would like prosecutors to take this issue up,” said a statement.

“Unlike other alleged offenders who are in prison Pistorius’s family are permitted to visit him at all hours not just prescribed visiting hours as would be the case in prison.”

South Africa’s prison are notorious for overcrowding and violence and suspects awaiting trial often spend months and even years in custody.

But authorities have rejected claims of special treatment, saying the double amputee athlete was being kept in police holding cells to allow him access to his legal team.

“There is no celebrity status (at play) here. It’s not a common practice, but it is a decision of the court,” spokesman for the prosecutions authority Medupi Simaku told SAPA news agency

Pistorius has told the Pretoria Magistrates Court that he shot Steenkamp, 29, in a horrible accident after he mistook her for an intruder.

The state is arguing that the killing was premeditated.