International reporting about and commenting on the “Blade Gunner” murder allegations have reached saturation point, and the general hypocrisy underlying much of this raving leaves me completely nauseous.
Reeva Steenkamp, the face of Avon cosmetics and Tropika Island of Treasure participant, is dead. Her family is mourning; her boyfriend, South African international double amputee athletics legend Oscar Pistorius, has been arrested and charged with her murder. It’s an international news story: it’s being rammed in our faces through all forms of media, and everyone has an opinion.
Pistorius will appear in court on Tuesday. Steenkamp’s autopsy report has already been completed. Extensive forensic testing has been done, and one assumes these toxicology and other forensic reports will be fast-tracked through the system. The country, the world, needs answers for this heinous crime.
The same day she died, countless other South Africans were murdered, but their families will not be as lucky as Steenkamp’s. They will have to wait months for an autopsy report, and a good few years for any toxicology report, which last I heard, had a three-year backlog. In some cases, only then will police decide to press charges; only then can approaches towards closure be made, and questions answered. What an indictment these double standards are on our society.
At the beginning of October last year, my sister’s youngest daughter was found dead in her flat. Paramedics and police suspected foul play.
However, no fingerprints were taken. No forensic pathologist was present. No evidence was gathered. The “crime scene” was compromised. No senior police officer was present at the scene. The investigating officer was not present: indeed, the current investigating officer was appointed nearly ten days later.
In short, the South African Police Services acted in a most incompetent and unprofessional manner. They compromised the crime scene. The investigating officer now has no evidence with which to work. The constables present made insufficient statements, and now, when pressed, say they “cannot remember” any details of the scene.
Witnesses will be interviewed, and all of the evidence collected which concern’s Steenkamp’s death will be tested in court, allowing for a reasoned judgement. This is correct procedure and the function of the judiciary, and a vital part of any democracy. However, for this process to run smoothly, the police procedure and the evidence forming the basis of the State’s argument, has to be solid and competently processed. In my niece’s case, there is no evidence because of sheer incompetence, and hence no case, and no way of answering any questions. Ever.
In addition, this police incompetence has caused immense emotional trauma in our immediate and extended family, and the possible irretrievable breakdown of some relationships. Closure of any sort would have to be achieved through private investigative efforts, and this is prohibitively expensive. Local politicians from all parties are not interested. I have lodged two complaints about the way this case has been handled, one at the police station concerned and one through national government: to date, no one has responded to either.
In short, two mothers and two fathers are grieving the loss of their daughter at the moment. The one daughter was a public figure; the other one was not. The one daughter’s death is being competently investigated; the other death is not. Perhaps Steenkamp’s family is fortunate in the sense that the police station in their area is functional and competent, but a part of me still questions whether according preferential treatment to an individual because of social status is simply illustrative of the hypocrisy inherent in our society.