Oscar Pistorius: From Hero to a fallen tragic Zero?

News this past Thursday that Oscar Pistorius allegedly shot his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, shocked not only South Africans but the world remained and still remains in shock too. This is someone who the Guardian once described as “athlete who overcame disability to become a global star”.

That he was described as such should not, however, make us lose sight of the fact that he is accused of murder. Or worse, that he is man and white should not make him incapable of murder. Like I said on Facebook last night: “That @OscarPistorius ‘has made history as an Olympic and Paralympics sportsman and has been an inspiration to others the world over’, as his management and family said in a statement earlier today (via @Politicsweb), this does not, however, mean he’s incapable of being a murderer just like all of us men are accused of being rapists all the time and are seen as potential murderers/killers too”. This comes are after Pistorius family and management statement yesterday vehemently “disputed [the alleged murder allegations] in the strongest terms”.

Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner, appeared shortly before court yesterday morning at which time his lawyers requested for a “postponement for a bail application until Tuesday next week to allow time for their investigation into the circumstances of the tragedy, which was granted by the Magistrate, who also agreed that Pistorius would be held in custody at a local police station”. Like any other (normal?) person would do in such circumstances (although you’d have to be very sure of your story and have the best legal mind in the land to defend you against such allegations) – the Pistorius’ are within their right to deny the murder allegations – at whatever cost.

What was supposed to be an exciting day for Steenkamp – a 30-year-old woman who was madly in love with Pistorius – turned into the worst Valentines’ Day especially for her family and not so much for the murder accused himself. This is because it is not the first time the blade-runner has been accused of being a womaniser. On Thursday City Press Online  reported him as having been arrested in September 2009 following a 19-year-old  Casseby Taylor-Memory’s allegations that he had assaulted her at his house party.

Pistorius allegedly spent the night in jail at the time, and National Prosecuting Authority later declined to prosecute because they couldn’t prove that he had intended to injure Taylor-Memory. Following this Pistorius then instituted a R6.5 million lawsuit against Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa for allegedly unlawful arresting him and another R2.2 million claim of malicious intent against Taylor-Memory. Although the circumstances around the case remain sketchy at this stage, the media reports, specifically the Afrikaans newspaper, Beeld, claimed that Steenkamp had been mistaken to being a robber. That’s very strange for a white person – a white yet blonde woman for that matter nogal – to be mistaken as an intruder, if these media reports are anything to go by at this stage – which they aren’t because the case is actually more complicated than it may seem.

Just as I had told someone recently – had Steenkamp been black I would probably understand. I mean we Darkies who are known for such things: rapists, murderers, corrupt, lazy, poor, although that’s not entirely true, but…. Oh, do you remember a boy who killed by a farmer who mistook him to being a baboon – or something like that? See now what I’m talking about….

Without mentioning names, however, Police spokesperson Katlego Mogale told Mail & Guardian on Thursday that a “26-year old male” who had been implicated in the shooting was “in shock” and had been taken into custody. This, said Mogale, after a “found a 9mm pistol [was found] at the scene”. This comes just two weeks after the brutal rape and murder of Anene Booysen – an incident that, too, shocked South Africa and from which the country’s still healing from although that seems very unlikely given the increasing number of women and killed raped and murdered. Booysen’s tragic rape and murder is a similar to a tragic incident that shocked India to the core in December last year.

Communication strategist and Thought Leader blogger Sarah Britten – who was has been quoted by five foreign online publications at the time of writing (myself being the 6th , though South African) – said Pistorius was “a great South African brand [who is now a] story, and our part of it, lay in tatters”. She said the Blade Runner “was our good thing, a national treasure” who had been “echoed by the international media, who have trumpeted the sensational shock of it across their front pages.”

While it is his and his family’s right plead innocence to the allegations – and something that is his constitutional right, and that which the police and the justice system have to prove otherwise – I however agree with Britten that his story has now “changed [him], unimaginably” from once an South African hero to “now just another South African tragedy” while Justice Malala, writing in the Guardian on Thursday, called him a “fallen [hero]”.

But that he is a MAN and WHITE, or that he has now joined the list of Nike endorsements that turned sour should be the last thing in our mind because it is NOW a fact that a woman was killed, allegedly by him – a serious charge he would have to defend  himself against, at whatever cost just like all the other accused persons should be afforded the opportunity to defend themselves.


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