JOHANNESBURG Feb 17 It was billed as a fitting
tribute to "an intelligent, beautiful and amazing woman" but the
airing of a Caribbean reality TV show featuring the girlfriend
of Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius two days after she was shot
dead has upset some South Africans.
In particular, women's rights activists criticised an edited
clip at the start of Saturday night's 'Tropika Island of
Treasure' in which law graduate and model Reeva Steenkamp talks
about her "exit".
"I think that the way you go out, not just your journey in
life but the way that you go out and you make your exit is so
important," she says, leaning against a palm tree in a
pre-recorded interview on the show's set in Jamaica.
At the end of the tribute, presumably recorded when she was
voted off the show, she blows kisses to the camera and says:
"I'm going to miss you all so much. I love you very, very much."
Pistorius was charged on Friday with murdering Steenkamp in
the early hours of the previous day, although his family have
denied the charge. Initial reports said Pistorius may have
mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder.
Rachel Jewkes, a gender and health researcher at the South
African Medical Research Council (MRC), said the clips were
particularly insensitive in a country where a woman is estimated
to be killed by her partner every eight hours.
"There was a big question about whether it should have been
shown at all, or whether they were trying to get audience
ratings off the fact she had died," Jewkes said.
"These sort of quotes don't make you feel any better about
the suggestion they are exploiting her death."
Show producer Samantha Moon said the decision to air the
programme on Saturday as scheduled was difficult but ultimately
she wanted to share the "special memories" of Steenkamp.
"Reeva was an intelligent, beautiful and amazing woman, and
we feel it would be an injustice to keep that unknown from those
who did not know her personally," Moon said.
Steenkamp, who was shot in the head, hand, chest and hip,
according to domestic media reports, will be buried on Tuesday.
Many South Africans thought the decision not to delay the
show until after the funeral was wrong.
"It was very insensitive to put it on air before she was
even buried," said 30-year-old insurance consultant Montle
Ndlovu. "It's such a sad story. She was young and pretty and had
her whole life in front of her."
"NO SPECIAL TREATMENT"
The downfall of Pistorius, the first double amputee to run
in the Olympics, has sent shockwaves through South Africa, where
many saw him as a rare example of a hero who transcended the
racial divides that linger in Nelson Mandela's "Rainbow Nation".
But the killing of Steenkamp has once again put a harsh
spotlight on South Africa's frighteningly high levels of
violence against women.
The country is still reeling from the murder this month of
17-year-old Anene Booysen, who was gang-raped, mutilated and
left for dead on a building site.
Although sexual crime is all too common - on average a woman
is raped every four minutes - the similarities to the murder of
a New Delhi woman that triggered protests in India gave birth to
an "Enough is Enough" campaign to halt the violence against
women endemic in South African society.
The ruling African National Congress' Women's League called
for the courts to deny bail to Pistorius to show the government
was serious about stopping gender-based violence.
"Pistorius must be treated like any other person accused of
such crimes and no special circumstances should be considered
based on his celebrity status," the League said.
Pistorius is being held in a Pretoria police station until
his bail hearing resumes on Tuesday. His family said on Saturday
Pistorius was numb with grief and shock, and a pastor who
visited him on Sunday said he was still distraught.
"The Holy Spirit gave me an order that this is now the
chance to go pray with Oscar," pastor AJ Wilson told Reuters
Television outside the police station.
"The (police) colonel told him that I have come to pray with
him. He just cried and we all cried together."
(Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by Angus MacSwan)