The sentencing of Oscar Pistorius for the death of Reeva Steenkamp was the most trending international news item this week. After Judge Thokozile Masipa announced the 5 year sentence for culpable homicide many people rushed to social media platforms to share their views on the sentence and on what had become the most sensational trial in South Africa’s history. This is the first trial in South Africa to have been fully broadcast and had a dedicated television channel.
Now that the dust is settling I am trying to understand what the fuss was about. Did the people who clamoured to have a view on this trial do so because of their love for justice or were they just seduced by the media frenzy surrounding the trial? In many people’s mind Oscar is guilty of murder and is deserving of a much longer sentence. I just wish these same people could also show the same fervour and interest in other criminal matters.
Reeva’s death was tragic and very sad and yet it should not be isolated from the deaths of other South Africans. 47 South Africans are killed every day and this means that the day that Reeva was killed, 46 others also had their lives taken away from them. The social status of these other South Africans who were also killed together with Reeva on February 14th, 2013 means that we have sentenced them into anonymity. They do not matter because they were not famous and neither were their killers.
For instance the death of Anene Booysen who was raped, killed and mutilated was hardly an issue for many people because she was an every-day South African teenager from a poverty stricken background. She was not from the bright lights of Gauteng but was from Bredasdorp, a small town in the Western Cape. A 6 week old Northern Cape baby was raped by her uncle in November 2013 and I wonder how many people still remember her plight.
The media spotlight on Oscar’s trial is understandable but what I can never understand is how Christians allowed themselves to imbibe, without even questioning, the agenda of the world’s media. The media did not cover this particular story because of their care for Reeva and her family but because of the mileage they would get. If we were truly concerned about Reeva then we should be concerned also about others who are killed because no life is worth more than the other.
In God’s eyes Reeva’s death is not more important than the death of Anene Booysen, some homeless individual or even the deaths of so many babies killed during abortion. Why then are we allowing the media to pull the strings on our hearts? The media has a powerful influence over culture and as Gateway News our desire is to promote a ‘kingdom culture.’ This means that we want to go beyond just reporting on news and bring the perspective on the kingdom into news.
From a kingdom perspective, how then should we look at the Oscar Pistorius saga? Firstly we need to show our support to the Steenkamp family for the loss of their daughter. This is something we should do regardless of Reeva’s social standing or circumstances surrounding her death. Secondly we should find it in our hearts to forgive Oscar. Anyone who fires four bullets through a closed bathroom door has some serious problems and let alone the fact that he slept with a firearm under his pillow.
Only God knows what went on in Oscar’s mind on that valentine morning and it also God who knows what goes in the minds of those who continue to shed the blood of others. Thirdly we should be concerned about the state of our nation. Crime has increased and the Eastern Cape in now the most murderous province in South Africa. We should be less concerned about the social status of the perpetrators of crime than we are about crime itself.
If we are concerned that an injustice occurred during Oscar’s trial then we should look at the totality of the justice system and not just this particular case. It is time that we stop being hypocritical.