I have been stewing in confusion and anger while watching CNN coverage of the much-anticipated trial of world famous paraolympian Oscar Pistorius, for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013.
This past week while watching news, footage of black South-Africans hovering over crime scenes ‘graced’ the screen. This was followed by footage of a white jewellery storeowner talking about needing to get a gun because of rampant crime in the country. The following day’s news presented a white man heading a security institute being interviewed about his experiences with crime and the extreme security measures he takes to protect his home.
On both days, I initially mistook the coverage for a documentary about crime in South Africa; hence my shock every time I realized this was a preface by the upcoming Blade Runner’s murder trial.
I have experienced crime in South Africa and thus not in denial about its existence. My beef however is how crime has been used by mainstream media to set the scene for the trial of Oscar Pistorius, who has used his fear of criminal intrusion as a defense for killing his girlfriend hiding behind a locked bathroom door. I find this one-sided reporting which seems to sell the Oscar version of events to the world biased and full of questionable motives.
I say this because the killing of Reeva Steenkamp also occurred in a context of a serious problem with gender based violence in the country, where women being abused or killed by their intimate partners is common. Often times, the men get away with it for all sorts of reasons that I will not explicate here but at the end all entrench the culture of impunity.
Thus I am left wondering, what is the media trying to achieve by choosing to focus their lens on the narrative of white people’s fear of crime over that of women of all colours experiences of domestic violence.
I wonder about whose interests this kind of reporting serves and whose sympathy is being sought or bought in defense of Oscar’s version of events and why.
Whether it was a fear of crime or a domestic violence case, the death of Reeva Steenkamp and countless other men and women illuminates the tragedy and travesty of violence in our society.
The media has a duty to present a fair and balanced version of events and leave the courts or Oscar’s conscience to deliver justice.