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Oscar and South Africa’s search for the ultimate hero

15 February 2013, 10:53

The recent arrest of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has raised a lot of mixed emotions within the South African society. Oscar, despite his disability, came from a well to do family that provided him with everything. However, we can’t take away the fact that he refused to let his disability stop him from him dreams. He became the hero that this country needed and was hero to millions of people in RSA and the world at large.

However, from the start, it has been clear that as a person Oscar has had demons to battle. He had recently become arrogant, with an air that he is a god and can get away with anything, and he has been getting away with it. Here is an athlete who fought the world athletics body to be allowed to compete against able bodied athletes but refused to admit he had lost to another disabled athlete last year. His arrogance knew no boundaries. He took advantage of South Africa’s thirst for a hero. He has been on a personal downward spiral but the mainstream media deliberately failed to report on it, or if they did, they whole story will be about Oscar’s on track antics instead of the alleged crimes that he would have alleged to have committed. That fueled a sense of invincibility in Oscar’s world. In February 2009, the police deliberately failed to take his blood samples after the boat accident, despite pictures of alcohol bottles all over the boat. That resulted in him getting away with it. Main stream media have failed to mention his spending a night in jail for the assault on Casseby Taylor-Memory in September of 2009. Charges were once again dropped the golden boy was on a roll. Nobody, including civic organizations and opposition parties, failed to raise an alarm because South Africa as a whole was yearning for an ultimate hero. In 2011, he allegedly made homophobic comments and once again no-one complained because the allegations where against Oscar. Imagine if it had been an average PSL player who had made these alleged comments? I can only imagine how the media would have had a field day, with Afriforum approaching the Human Right Commission and the DA calling for the sponsors to pull out. But not with Oscar. He had to get away with everything and that didn’t stop there, as Marc Batchelor can testify.

However, the article by Michael Sokolove in The New York Times stating Oscar was “crazy” should have had the nation question whether Oscar was the right ‘hero” we needed.  “You have to quickly understand that he “Oscar” is a little crazy,” the author wrote. The article never saw the light of day here. It also stated that he was gun crazy. I think that should have been a wake up call for South Africa to try to hold the hero to account. Here is a man with a documented violent history and he brags in British and American media that he has even has a machine gun “by a window.” He even drew bad publicity to South African because he painted the country as more or less a war zone where ordinary people like him keep machine guns by their windows. He stopped being a hero there. He became the villain, but the country failed to bring him to book. Why? Why didn’t we complain how a 26-year-old athlete staying in an up market estate, hero worshipped by almost every citizen is this country is allowed by the law to have an armory in his townhouse? He was on the right track to become South Africa’s OJ Simpson or Phil Spector and the nation did nothing because of the fear of losing the Ultimate Hero. Well, we don’t know what is going to happen with the court case and we will presume his innocence until proven guilty but the fact that he was holding the gun that fired 4 shots into the body of his girlfriend will always linger on in a country where majority of women suffer physical or emotional abuse and death at the hands of their partners. In South Africa a woman is more likely to die at the hands of their partner than a stranger and Oscar has become another statistic. He is not the Golden Boy no more. The amount of bad publicity he has brought to the country cannot be quantified. Heroes do not do that. Oscar has let South Africa down.

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