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ANC women bemoan celebrity treatment for Pistorius

Published on Feb 21, 2013 7:24 PM
 
Oscar Pistorius enters the dock during a break in court proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrates court on Feb 21, 2013. Members of the Women's League of the ruling African National Congress (ANCWL) have accused authorities of giving "special treatment" to Pistorius. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PRETORIA (AFP) - Members of the Women's League of the ruling African National Congress (ANCWL) have accused authorities of giving "special treatment" to Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius who stands charged with murdering his girlfriend.

The women say they 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," they said in 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."

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.

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

"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.