Being South African, the whole Oscar Pistorius saga gripped me by the heart. It’s hard for me to accept what is happening with him at the moment. Somewhere inside me there is a small part that wishes we can all wake up and it was just a bad dream. But I know it is true: Oscar Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp.
We cried because we were proud of our boy Oscar Pistorius
During the 2012 Olympic Games, I wrote several articles about Oscar and his battle to the top. One by one these articles drew record amounts of traffic to my website. On the day he ran the 200m final, my relatively new website got a record 595 hits for Oscar Pistorius.
That day James Kirani, who won the gold medal when Oscar came sixth, asked for Oscar’s name tag. I couldn’t wipe away the tears fast enough. People finally acknowledged him as one of the top sportsmen in the world. His long battle to compete against able bodied athletes had paid off!
The world couldn’t get enough of Oscar Pistorius. He was on the A-list for every party and his name was mentioned a lot more than any of the gold medal winners at the 2012 Olympics. Babies all over the world were named after him. Some of the most beautiful women in the world wanted to be seen with him. One of them, was Reeva Steenkamp.
I followed this public persona like most other people did. I read everything written about him. I didn’t believe he could ever put a foot wrong.
The shock: Oscar Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp
It was Valentine’s Day. Turning on the television and expecting to see fluffy stories about love and chocolate hearts, the news came like a punch in the stomach. I did not want to believe it. My writer’s mind thought up different scenarios how he could have been set up, how it couldn’t have happened the way people said.
Over the past year I had learnt to accept it. He did it. The how and the why is only now being exposed during the trial. But he did it. Our hero had it in him to take the life of another.
Suddenly he isn’t being portrayed as the people’s hero anymore. People tell stories about an abusive, gun-crazed man who lived in his own world where no one dared go against him.
The article I wrote on Reeva Steenkamp’s death, gets an average of 200 hits a day. Everybody wants to read about the fallen hero.
This is Oscar Pistorius. This is not South Africa.
Over and over again I read how the media refers to South Africa as a gun-crazed nation where everybody owns a gun and shoot before asking questions. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend. His reasons for doing so, still aren’t clear and may never be. But it doesn’t mean that all South Africans are maniacs who drive around shooting guns through the sunroofs of their cars. It doesn’t mean all South Africans carry guns when they go out to restaurants.
I can just hope that South Africa will again be seen as a nation that delivers heroes, on and off the sports field. I can just hope that the vision of a physically ill Oscar Pistorius facing the judge is not all the world will remember about South Africa.