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Thu Apr 24 06:07:41 SAST 2014

Let us not reduce the Oscar tragedy to sensationalism

The Times Editorial | 15 February, 2013 02:25

The Times Editorial: Whatever happened early yesterday morning at Oscar Pistorius' apartment in the Silverlakes complex, it will be up to a judge to decide if there was any criminal culpability. Until then, innocence needs to be presumed.

If only it were that easy for the man known as Blade Runner. Within hours of Reeva Steenkamp's death by gunshot wounds, the shooting became an international news story - with Pistorius thrust in the middle of it.

In the mad rush to catch up with the mystery of the Valentine's Day shooting in Silverlakes, the usual fingers were pointed: South Africa was a country under siege by criminals, with its affluent citizens - many of them armed to the teeth - cowering behind high walls and electric fencing.

Such glib generalisations are irritating. Of course, there needs to be a strong level of vigilance, especially in crime-hit areas such as Muldersdrift and on some farms. But the stories of a wild paranoia are just that: wild.

It also does not ease foreign perceptions of our country when the Steenkamp murder, which is what the police believe her death to be, comes hot on the heels of the shooting of Trent Barcroft, the chief executive of Chrysler and Fiat South Africa, during a robbery.

The sensationalisation of tragic events like Steenkamp's death, Barcroft's wounding and Anene Booysen's rape and murder often provokes kneejerk reactions, such as the call by a cricket star for a return of the death penalty.

We not only need to keep our emotions in check, but also the assigning of blame. This is easier said than done and Pistorius will need to prepare himself for a harrowing period between now and when a judge delivers his or her verdict. That is if there is enough evidence to take the matter beyond today's expected court appearance of the Blade Runner.

Even before his court appearance, Pistorius' name was linked to the shooting. We now need to let due process take its course.

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Thu Apr 24 06:07:41 SAST 2014 ::