The family of murder accused Oscar Pistorius have released a statement bemoaning the tone of social media comments about the case.
Part of the family's statement read:
“The disregard that is being shown by some - specifically those commenting via social media - for the profound pain that Reeva’s family and friends are going through is very troubling.”
“There is not a moment in the day that Oscar does not mourn for his girlfriend and Reeva’s family, and all those who were close to her are in his thoughts constantly.”
South Africa's Eye Witness News reports that the reference to "troubling" social media comments is likely a reference to the "Pistorians," an apparently non-organized online collective of fans who have appointed themselves the social media defenders of the accused athlete.
The group, who use the hashtag #pistorians, comprises people from South Africa, the UK, Germany, Brazil and even Borneo, and take to task anyone they see as besmirching the athlete's reputation, according to South Africa's City Press. Perhaps surprisingly, for an athlete accused of murdering his girlfriend, the majority of the group appear to be women. The group operates much like #teambreezy, the Twitter collective that supports and defends the troubled singer Chris Brown.
Journalist Alex McClintock details his encounters with the group in a story for Vice.
McClintock found himself the subject of the Pistorians ire after tweeting that Pistorius' father Henke may as well blame the country's domestic violence problem on Nelson Mandela after Henke publicly blamed the South African government for the country’s gun problem.
More disturbingly, some members of the group appear to place the blame for her death on Pistorius's slain girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkamp.
After McClintock tweeted that he felt sorry for Steenkamp, Australia's News.au cites another Twitter user responding "Thanks, but I'll feel sorry for who I feels deserves it," (the tweet appears to have since been deleted, but a cache version can be found via Google).
The Associated Press reports that Pistorius' family also stated that he has has been spending time with people who were close to Steenkamp.
"Oscar has found comfort in spending time and sharing memories with many of those whom she loved, in surroundings where shared memories were created," the family said in a statement Thursday.