Pretoria - The authorities must explain why murder accused athlete Oscar Pistorius was getting “special treatment”, the ANC Women's League said on Thursday.
“The ANCWL is calling for an explanation as to why Oscar Pistorious is getting special treatment by being allowed to stay in the Brooklyn Police Station holding cells as opposed to Central Prison or Newlock like all other awaiting trial or awaiting bail prisoners,” the league said.
“If there is some special circumstance that permits this, authorities must share this with the public as they are setting a bad (precedent).”
Pistorius has been kept in the cells since his arrest on Thursday following the fatal shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his house in Pretoria.
His family can visit him “at all hours”, unlike other alleged offenders, complained the league, which has participated in protests that he not be granted bail.
Should he not be granted bail, the statement continued, he must be moved to a “proper prison facility”.
“A strong message must be sent out that wealth and celebrity cannot give you an advantage over the law,” the league said.
According to a report in Beeld on Thursday, Pistorius is sleeping on a mattress on a floor in a communal holding cell with one toilet and shower, possibly also sharing with others.
After his first court appearance last Thursday, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) explained that Pistorius would be held at a police station so that he could consult his lawyers.
“We believe that it is fair for the accused (Pistorius) so that he can meet with his defence (lawyers). It is noted that when the accused is kept at a prison there is no after hours visit, whether from the legal team or the family,” said NPA spokesman Medupi Simasiku.
“There is no celebrity status (at play) here. It's not a common practice, but it is a decision of the court. We can't argue regarding why the court made that decision (to keep Pistorius at the police station).” - Sapa