Posts Tagged ‘domestic violence


Oscar Pistorius & Reeva Steenkamp – a shattered dream !


Valentine’s Day will never be the same again for me.

In its stead – from now on – I will dedicate this universal day of twosome love to the memory of Reeva Steenkamp, Anene Booysen, and the millions of other women, worldwide, who have trusted – and unwittingly allowed – men of power to take any undue advantage of them, how or whatsoever.

By power, I mean via a route that is physical, psychological or of material influence, or any combination thereof.

As Lord Acton wrote in 1887:

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

So many thoughts have flowed through my mind over the past 3 days, and I’d like to deal with a few key points here.

Firstly – Reeva Steenkamp and honouring her memory.

Like most, I knew nothing about this beautiful young woman until after the tragedy. However, three very positive things now stand out for me:

– She qualified as a lawyer, with plans to become an advocate, which is not an easy road in jurisprudence. This means she was not only bright, but had developed a sense of what is right-and-wrong, coupled with an understanding of law. This is an extremely valuable quality for anyone to possess;

– She attracted work in the modelling world, as a result of her physical attributes, and clearly saw an opportunity to use her natural assets whilst young, and so put them to good use. The fact that she tweeted about the appalling abuse and violence against women a day or two before her tragic death, plus had been scheduled to speak on this subject on Valentine’s Day evening, means she was wisely adding value in our communal social justice sphere, which is really admirable; and

– Last, but not least, I am so impressed by the dignified silence her family has taken in this ugly turn of events. That, for me, shows that she has grown up in a close-knit, loving family of good values. I sense she then carried that light into her own life.

Thus, I firmly believe that, in whatever road that lies ahead, we must never forget that we’ve lost a hugely valuable member of our community who surely would have added more value to our world than what she might have taken from it. On that basis, we must not allow her victimhood to become yet another statistic in our brutal and crime-ridden society.

We must keep her flame alive, as a tribute to others less fortunate who’ve paid the supreme price … and will still do so.

Secondly – we must seriously look into our own thinking and behaviour, as citizens of this land we love so dearly.

Whilst I am the ‘eternal-optimist’, and am often guilty of over-promoting positivism in the face of realism, I can be pragmatic. Thus, I am as guilty as the next for taking Oscar Pistorius and putting him on a pedestal.

I’ve thought long and hard about this.

Our modern world of glitterati and twitterati helps create a sense of false well-being amongst us all. So when dark clouds gather – as happens in this nation of a fractured rainbow daily – we snatch any little pieces of ‘silver-linings’ and hold them close to our bosoms. Readily and easily.

We shower ‘adoration’ on human beings daily, whether they be film-stars, musicians, royalty or leaders in the realms of business, politics and social causes.

Like for so many others across our land – and the world – Oscar’s fall from grace has been a massive reality check for me, specifically since I’ve been so active in recent times on social media championing his banner.

As I said – I’m just as guilty as Joe or Jenny Bloggs of this, but – yet again – having been wounded by this specific turn of events, I’m going to try to be a little more diligent in researching those people whom I might champion in the future. I think we all should, but I admit that it’s easier said than done.

Thirdly – and I believe this is very important – South Africa is a fledgling democracy, a long way off maturity.

What democracy is all about is that, principally, the “people shall govern”.

This means that we need to understand that political leaders represent OUR interests, and that when legislators – i.e. OUR electees – enact laws, they must mirror OUR collective values and needs. In the process, we must have independent courts and magistrates/judges, PLUS we must have a free and independent media that acts as a communal watchdog over our civic interests.

Many people bemoan the fact that the media have speculated on certain issues of this case and even reported on certain alleged facts.

I believe this is a very healthy democracy in play, provided that such actions are mature, objective and responsible. Given the fact that the Pistorius team has resources to fight untruths and innuendos, we must trust our editors to receive good counsel before publication, or else they could face serious litigation. So there is a fair balance in play in this untoward matter.

I grew up when John F Kennedy was assassinated, and John Lennon, and many others. A good press interrogated those stories in depth, well before such things got to court, precisely because they were in the “national interest” and beyond. Likewise, the tragic death of Princess Diana.

Accordingly, we must support the media to research more and inform us all, as the court case evolves.

One must never forget that we, as South Africans, do not have a USA-jury based system. Instead, our courts are empowered – by law – to take the voices and mood of its citizens into account in matters before them.

This is such a valuable aspect of jurisprudence because it means that our laws and court judgments can mirror the times in which we live, and adjust to changing social conditions.

Accordingly, I would argue that the media must continue playing its key role in this matter, as it has done in so many other “public interest” stories. Marikana, Nkandla, state corruption and so much more springs to mind.


Against these 3 issues I raise, I need to address the point I wish to make here.

As an activist seeking justice against the ‘bloody’ rhino and elephant poaching scourge across our African lands, I cannot help but think that roughly FOUR times as many women died at the hands of domestic violence last year (2012) in SA, when compared to poached rhino. (According to a recent report from the South African Institute of Race Relations.)

Most of South Africa’s citizenry are outraged at this brutal onslaught our rhinos face, BUT – and here’s the caveat – on a purely numeric basis, there should be FOUR times the civic outrage against this domestic violence that engulfs our nation. However – I’m not seeing such a barometer.

There are literally hundreds of NGO’s raising funds and being hyper-active in the development of rhino-security, but I don’t see the same level of commitment and consciousness for supporting a handful of NGO’s doing amazing work in this space of woman and child abuse, and specifically domestic violence. There’s a skewed sense of reality here. IMHO.

There is now no doubt that the Oscar Pistorius case is one of domestic violence that is certainly being proven to have been utterly uncalled for. The law will take its course in the our courts, but there is irrefutable evidence of a wrongful use of force that has resulted in an ugly and most tragic loss of life.

THAT is the crux of domestic violence.

To conclude –

I cannot, and will not, stay silent on such matters.

I will therefore lobby hard that WE – as South Africans – and a wider humanity – treat ANY and ALL violence in our communities with utter contempt and outrage, especially if it is against the most vulnerable of our nation. Our woman, our children, our poor and dispossessed, and our precious wildlife, for whom we have a custodial obligation to protect their rights.

We must all be very clear on this, and put away our hopes and dreams, and focus on a bloody and brutal reality of violent crime. And speak out more, strongly and actively, in any and every forum.

The fact is that Oscar Pistorius took a life for which he had no right whatsoever.

I don’t care whether he is a global sports star, or an impoverished drug- or liquor-induced man in a community of utter hopelessness. He MUST be treated equally before the law, or else we fail our constitution – dismally – by promoting more inequality in our land, which is precisely why the new SA was given birth 19 short years ago.

That is what protecting our maturing democracy is all about. Delivering a more caring, just and equal society to those that come after us.

And – in this process – should he be denied bail, I would support the state’s application 101%, as this is what I demand of other heinous crime perpetrators.

As for the NMMU graphic I’ve used above, I chose it because the image is fractured.  Oscar has undoubtedly shattered our fragile ‘rainbow’.

For Reeva and all the victims of abuse and violence, we must carefully put those rainbow jigsaw pieces back together again. For the light and sunshine of a brighter tomorrow. For all of us. And their collective memories.

They must not have died in vain.

Brian Sandberg
Durban. South Africa.
18 February 2013.


This is my own opinion and neither the whole, nor any part thereof, may be used in any form of re-publication without my express written permission. This is a very sensitive matter and it requires due care.

This blog – in its format here – may be shared widely, but extracts will be considered illegal, without due permission.


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