Pretoria - Reeva Steenkamp would not have died on Valentine's Day if Oscar Pistorius had not kept a gun in his home, Women Minister Lulu Xingwana said on Tuesday.

“If there was no gun in the Pistorius home, Reeva Steenkamp would still be alive,” Xingwana told reporters in Pretoria.

“I was disappointed Oscar (Pistorius) got bail but I respect the decision of the court.”

The minister welcomed Pistorius's strict bail conditions, as well as the appointment of a new investigators in the case.

“Domestic violence is exacerbated by easy access to guns. We are making a call for stricter gun control,” she said.

“As a country we need to wage a sustained and effective campaign against the availability of guns in our homes and streets.”

Xingwana said women were three times more likely to die violently if a firearm was kept in the home.

The continuing spate of violence and rape against women in South Africa was a matter of grave concern and a scourge which condemned women and children to a life of fear.

“It prevents them from becoming productive members of society,” she said.

The minister welcomed the re-establishment of sexual offences courts as they would expedite the prosecution of offenders, though she did not know the exact timetable, that being a matter for the justice department.

Asked whether chemical castration was a possible deterrent to rapists, Xingwana said you could not correct a crime with a crime.

“We have a Constitution which has a Bill of Rights. For me to put a chemical in your body, you have to agree. If you do not agree, that is a crime.”

The minister said government had established the National Council Against Gender-Based Violence.

The council would meet four times a year and provide strategic leadership, co-ordination and monitoring against gender-based violence.

They would focus on prevention, response, support, co-ordination and communication, and advocacy, awareness-raising and social campaigns to end gender-based violence.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was the council's patron.

The minister said allegations of the misappropriation of funds within her department were being investigated, with three people - a driver, director and chief director - dismissed thus far. - Sapa