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Pistorius, who was listed by Time magazine among the world’s 100 most-influential people in 2012, was arrested in 2009 for assaulting a woman, but was never charged.

Last year, it was reported he had threatened to break the legs of a man he thought had slept with his girlfriend.

 “He’s very quiet and very modest but he’s a big party animal,” a top SA runner who knows Pistorius but didn’t want to be named, told Reuters.

“I’ve been with him when we’ve been smashed and he never seemed violent.” 

Pistorius certainly wasn’t considered unusual for keeping weapons for protection in South Africa.

And, as well as the spotlight falling on the Paralympian, it’s also shining heavily on the country’s gun laws.

According to the SA Gunowners’ Association, there are about 2.5 million legal gun owners in the country – about one in 20 people – with estimates of up to six million unlicensed weapons.

Spokesman Martin Hood told C4 News: “The teething problems in our democracy at this stage means unfortunately we just have a very high level of violent crime.

The slight majority of people who own firearms own them for self-defence.”

United Nations figures for 2010, the latest year available, reveal 15,940 people were murdered in South Africa, the equivalent of about 40 people every day.

And the country has the 12th-highest total number of fatal shootings in the world, outranked only by the likes of Mexico and the US. 

However, far from being straight-forward to buy a gun licence, it’s considered less complicated to get one in the UK after dramatic changes in 2000 as the SA government cracked down on weapons post-apartheid.

But Guy Lamb, of the Safety and Violence Initiative at the University of Cape Town, told the Telegraph stricter laws had made the weapons more desirable to steal.

“You could acquire a firearm to protect yourself, but you could also become a target because your firearm is a wanted commodity.”

As Pistorius appeared in court on Friday, denying the charges in the “strongest terms”, Steven Ungerleider, a sports psychologist from Oregon, said: “Sometimes, you think you kind of know where people are, then all of a sudden that perception goes. I’m shocked and sad.”

But whether the latest shooting will push SA to focus on the violence rife in its country, and its gun laws, remains to be seen.

Bullet in the chamber’: Pistorius ads pulled

Sponsors have pulled down billboards bearing Oscar Pistorius’s image after the runner was charged with murder.

The campaigns included an online Nike advert featuring on Pistorius’s website showing him with the words, “I am the bullet in the chamber”.  

The sports giant declined to say whether the relationship with Pistorius would continue, with Nike South Africa spokesperson Seruscka Naidoo adding: “It’s a matter that’s being investigated.”

The world’s most famous Paralympian also had links with BT, sunglasses maker Oakley, Thierry Mugler fragrances and running blade manufacturer Ossur in deals worth about £2m a year.

M-Net, a pay-for TV channel across SA, has  pulled a campaign featuring the Paralympian “out of respect” to Reeva Steenkamp’s family.

It included billboards publicising the latest Hollywood movies. 

 

Image: Getty, AAP


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Blade gunner: As Oscar Pistorius is charged with murder, TNT looks at South Africa's gun laws
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