My Big Mouth: Will the Pistorius trial tarnish South Africa’s reputation?


The events on Valentines Day sent shock waves across the nation


By Pete Thompson

The image of Oscar Pistorius crying in a courtroom sums up the media coverage of the inquest into the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

In the last week, the Blade Runner has been portrayed as a victim of the case, due to his popularity as a sports star in South Africa.

It is important to remember that the death of the Olympian’s girlfriend is the real tragedy amongst the endless stream of news stories about Pistorius’ fall from grace.

However, there is another victim that will suffer as the trial goes on: the nation that supported him so passionately.

The main reason this incident has shocked South Africa is because it happened to one of their most adored celebrities.

The rest of the world is stunned and intrigued for the same reason, but also because impressions of South Africa had recently changed for the better.

Before the tragic night, thoughts of South Africa conjured up memories of the improving nation that was successfully presented at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Those images, and Pistorius’ remarkable Olympic achievements, shielded us from a harsh reality of crime, violence and discrimination that the media had distributed to the world.

Pistorius’ defence depends on his claim that he feared a dangerous intruder was in the house, a very real prospect for every South African on a daily basis.

Reports domestic abuse and arguing prior to and on February 14 between the couple have highlighted the country’s epidemic of violence against women.

It has also reminded us South Africa’s rates of murder and rape are among the highest in the world.

The improving image of South Africa has been stopped in its tracks by Pistorius, who ironically was the movement’s latest poster boy.

For the individuals who supported and admired Pistorius the reality check is just as sudden and heartbreaking.

Many will be unwavering in their support for him, regardless of the trial’s outcome, because of the way his remarkable story of overcoming adversity has inspired them and reflects the history of the country.

Those achievements cannot be taken away from him and his fans will cling on to his innocence for as long as Pistorius himself does.

Whatever the outcome of the trial, as the Blade Runner’s image becomes more and more tarnished, so too does his country’s.

Picture courtsey of David Jones, with thanks. 

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