Oscar Pistorius is a man of "deep humility and respect for life", the founder of a UK charity supported by the athlete has told civilsociety.co.uk in response to the Olympian's arrest and charge of premeditated murder.
Mike Hendrick, founder of the Mineseeker Foundation where Pistorius is an ambassador, branded the Olympian a "humanitarian" and said that "Oscar shooting someone does not fit into the profile of the Oscar I know".
Hendrick said the charity would "not make any swift judgements" on whether Pistorius, who this morning appeared in a South African court accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, would remain as an ambassador, but said the charity would review the situation as it progresses.
Hendrick, whose charity detects and removes landmines in Africa as well as providing prosthetic limbs, has known Pistorius personally for many years, he advised:
“I’ve known Oscar since he was 18 and all our experiences with him have been very uplifting and good. Obviously this is a terribly sad and shocking occurance but it would be wrong for us to judge it. It’s an allegation at the moment.
“Oscar stays at my house when he’s here and he comes out to the bush with us to fit prosthetic limbs on people. He’s a humanitarian, it just doesn’t fit with the Oscar that I know," said Hendrick.
“At the moment I just want to give all of the support that we can to everyone concerned. And our thoughts are with Reeva and her family, and Oscar’s family. It’s just an unbelievable situation which we don’t know how to react to," he added.
Gold medal-winning Paralympic runner Pistorius, often referred to as the 'Blade Runner', made headlines last year as the first double leg amputee to take part in the Olympic Games. Yesterday he made headlines under very different circumstances following the death of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, at Pistorius's home in South Africa's Pretoria. Local press advise Steenkamp was shot four times in the incident. While early reports claimed the shooting may have been a result of a Valentine's Day surprise gone wrong, Pistorius was arrested on a "premeditated murder" charge, appearing in court this morning. He will remain in police custody ahead of his bail hearing next Tuesday (19 February). It is legal to own firearms in South Africa, where UN figures show that 15,940 people were murdered in 2010, the latest year for which the organisation has figures.
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