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Why, Oscar?

20 February 2013, 15:00

I’ve purposely kept clear of the whole Oscar Pistorius mess, as it is too easy to judge, and it’s something we all seem to do so easily, but I break my silence now, because it’s gone beyond the pale.

Just a few short months ago, he was the golden boy of South Africa, but we know without doubt how fickle South Africans are in general. Within hours of the news breaking, there was a fake Nando’s ad on Facebook: 'We don’t shoot our chicks; we just flame-grill them'. He has been judged and found guilty, and that by Christians as well.

If we are to pray for our enemies, how much more are we to pray for those who have fallen? None of us is perfect, but we stand in judgment on another flawed human because he did something we might just as easily have done. Whether he murdered her or not is beside the point. As a nation we have turned on him like ravening wolves.

A black guy wrote that he hopes Oscar is repeatedly raped in jail for what he has done. Why? How is that going to help anyone? Reeva’s father has forgiven him, and if he can why can’t we?

When, in the eighties, Transvaal was the premier cricket team in South Africa, and perhaps the strongest provincial team in the world, Clive Rice was widely hated, even when he captained South Africa against the touring rebel teams. We view success with suspicion, and secretly wish for the downfall of those who are successful.

Naas Botha was perhaps the best rugby player in the world in his time and yet, as the captain of Northern Transvaal and later the Springboks, he was widely hated. So much so, that another equally hated rugby player, Morné Du Plessis, became a hero when he tackled Naas Botha so brutally that he injured him. We like to see everyone cut down to size.

In the US, if someone sees another driving a Mercedes, he says, ‘I’ll be in one of those one day.’

Here we say, ‘I’ll have him out of that one day.’

We make snap judgments on matters that do not concern us in any way. We are judge, jury and executioner and we all know what happened that fateful night, and we should be ashamed of ourselves, but are we? I doubt it.

All I can say is this: in my heart I’ve murdered a number of people, especially taxi drivers, so how can I condemn someone for doing something physically what I’ve dreamed of doing? We should be sober in our response to this, and we are anything but.

Even respectable broadsheets are strident in their telling of the tale, with headlines such as, ‘Golden boy loses his shine.’ Two lives have been utterly ruined, two families have been devastated, and we, as a country, can make jokes about it.

At times like this I am ashamed to be a South African. Perhaps part of the reason we have such a high level of violent crime is because of our callous attitude to death and violence.

Can we examine ourselves in the cold light of reason and be pleased with what we find?

It would be a worthwhile exercise, because when we truly examine ourselves and our actions and words, we would not be so quick to judge.

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