Did he…or not? A plea to the Media in relation to the Pistorius case

oscarThe media will have a field day. I’m sure there are bookies out there taking bets. And, all over the world, people are guessing what really happened on that Valentine morning; when the wrapped gifts waited for the surprised smiles and subtle hints of love.

Instead, the neighbours heard shouts…and shots.

And Reeva Steenkamp lay dead behind a door. A hero became a villain. A model became a corpse.

No matter how the media depicts it; or how we judge the situation; it remains a tragedy. Two families have to live with unspeakable sorrow – even guilt. Should they have seen it coming? Said anything? Done anything? How could they have helped to prevent this awful reality of death, court cases and public outcry?

The sad fact is that justice will take it’s course. The prosecution, in typical South African style (Think: Marikana, Fochville, Fidentia and even the Nkandla case), will face serious questions. The defence will be brilliant. There’ll be red faces in court and hushed whispers afterwards. The tabloids will have a field day and the authorities will wish society had a short memory.

The fact is: a man killed a woman – one that he professed to love. It sounds so much like the Dewani case, it’s scary. Both men claim they’re innocent. In both their cases, the lady in question died a violent death.


The one man owns up to the fact that he pulled the trigger, and the other pleads mental instability. There’s a lot to hear in those facts.

So: on behalf of the people of Rolbos, Oudoom asks for silence. Stop the gossip and the guessing and the unfounded opinions. Only one man knows what happened that terrible night. If he fired those shots in anger, he must face the wrath of the law. If he made a horrible mistake – then, too, justice must be served. In both cases, we must remember and have sympathy for the pain and the anguish inflicted on two unsuspecting families.

We must, too, urge the media to focus an equal amount of attention on the farm murders and White genocide in our country. Black on Black violence is still at atrocious levels. We want similar headlines and photos for murdered and maimed young ladies after they have been raped. Please highlight the inability of the government to help youths find a job. Tell us about the way the president is squandering millions on his household, while people are freezing to death on the Cape Flats. Make us aware of the deficiencies in the hospitals and schools around the country. Inform us about the defence force and their role in the Congo – and why it is important for our young men to have to die there.  Be truthful about our economy and the dismal future we have to prepare for. We want to know why the railways fell into disrepair and why the national airline is in such a mess. And while we’re about it, let us know what – exactly – is happening to our electricity supply and why maintenance of strategic assets has fallen by the wayside.

Nobody thinks the Oscar/Reeva case is excusable. Fact is: it happened, and there’s nothing we can do or say that’ll change that. Let justice be done and let us close that chapter.

The media, however, should address the future for a change and stop digging in the past. They should guide the nation towards a better tomorrow, and not make us wander around – aimlessly – in the sordid details of yesterday. While history provides the foundation for the future, it is up to every individual to reach out towards the day when we all strive towards a country where life is precious, and we all have an equal chance to make people proud to be South Africans.

How to do this?

Not easy. It’ll require stern editors and visionary journalists.

Sadly, people want to read about the mistakes other people made and the sensation surrounding these individual tragedies. We love pointing fingers and whispering behind our hands. We have not progressed to the level of showing compassion to those that have wronged; but we are experts in ignoring the obvious catastrophe we are heading for.

Is it so difficult? When will we learn that news is only news when it is aimed at improving lives and not of value when it silences the sirens of warning we must all heed? Every ‘Oscar’ headline steals away a front page aiming to improve the lives of those of us who are struggling to survive in the New South Africa.

Let us sympathise with the families concerned with the Oscar Pistorius case. Whatever the outcome, it won’t bring Reeva back. But let us not lose focus: sensationalism has a place and we must live with it – but what is sauce for the goose, is also sauce for the gander. Let us then break the silence about our farm murders, the economy and the state of our country as well.

Societies do not survive because they blame the past. They build a future because it’s the only option. Let us face reality, allow justice to be done, and focus on helping each other past the hurdles of our current situation. If we stop wallowing in scandal, we might just bask in the promise of a better tomorrow.

Like the homeless young man in the video, South Africa has the potential to wow the world once again. We did it in 1994. It is time to revive that spirit and start telling the world we aren’t wallowers in the past. We believe we can create a better life for everybody who lives here. We can forgive; we can move on; we can feel each other’s pain…and we can stop casting stones. Instead, we can build a castle…

There’s only one requirement: making everybody believe it is possible.

May the media rise to the challenge.


15 thoughts on “Did he…or not? A plea to the Media in relation to the Pistorius case

  1. adinparadise

    Well said, Amos. Your post should be on the front page of The Star newspaper, as well as a few overseas newspapers too. This case is going to be a feeding frenzy for the press and public alike. I hope the truth prevails.

      1. cvheerden

        Such important thoughts. As always, politicians delight as the little man’s crime distracts from big scale corruption and blows sand into the eyes of editors of the influential papers. Why are there so many crimes against women in our nation? Why are schools being closed down and classrooms overcrowded and public schools worse equipped than post war schools in the 1950s Europe? Clearly South Africa can not grow on the backs of an uneducated mass demanding educated pay. But there is no focus on fruitful discussion, instead we’re having another voyueristic ball peeping into somebody’s unhappy bedroom. I must say it is difficult being an active citizen in South Africa. We are involved in the moral regeneration meeting in our municipality, trying to be more than the mere “rubberstamp” to the mayors decisions in budgeting. But the African tendency to cling to tedious protocols is a sure fire guarantee to kill any effort in making productive decisions as after 5 hours of filling out attendance forms any fighting energy has left the brain making way to a dull emptiness… There are meetings to prepare for meetings that will decide if meetings can be held. In the meantime, every minute more than one woman gets abused and shady entrepreneurs try to make a quick buck not doing much to create sustainable infrastructure for the long run…
        Yes, everybody, go and write letters to the editors of your papers. Include photographs of littered playgrounds, desolate parks and inhumane creches, report on why the salaries for your municipal officers keep increasing while the settlements around town have no roads nor water. Demand accountability and for goodness sakes stop watching soapy lullabies and start tuning into the parlamentary debates. Maybe we can demand that delegates must have some command of the English language and can answer the questions asked by the opposition?

      2. Amos van der Merwe Post author

        Oh, so well said! Thank you…I hope your comment reaches many, many hearts. It’s by being aware of the real issues facing us, that we may have hope for the future. Sleazy voyeurism won’t help us. Not at all…

  2. cvheerden

    Thanks! So that’s how you spell voyeurism! 🙂 I keep on learning. South Africa is an awesome place, and it’s those people who have backbone as hard as the Drakensberg that can keep it standing tall and mighty, a place of safety for the years ahead of us. Europe sure faces serious struggles with Islamists trying to push in, the USA has long seized to be the nation of the truly free, and China is still busy regrouping itself in a new aera of market expansion. South Africans of all backgrounds can decide now to build a nation that will make its positive mark on history… A unique chance presents itself. Only the lazy won’t manage to put the hand back from the pot into their mouth.

  3. colonialist

    True. It is a reflection on the media and the rather sick appetites of the public, both. Things like farm murders and frozen, starved poor have lost novelty value.

    1. Amos van der Merwe Post author

      I agree. News – sensational news – now requires an idol to fall. The common citizen is disappearing into the background. Such a pity – our community won’t be worth anything if these anonymous individuals didn’t pull their weight. Politicians don’t contribute to the growth of our economy – it is the guy that gets up at 5 am to catch a taxi to work that makes the difference. And he should be on the front page, not some scandal.

  4. thehappyhugger

    These are such tragedies. I cannot imagine the unbearable pain the families of murdered people have in their hearts. I think of Anene Booysen, Reeva Steenkamp, the terribly brutal farm murders – I light my candle – my heart and soul cries…

    1. Amos van der Merwe Post author

      That’s the essence of the matter, Huggs – the victims and their families need our respect and prayers…not the sensation-seeking reporting and public scrutiny. Thanks…


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