Oscar Pistorius is on the cover of TIME next week. This time, it’s not because he’s the wildly successful South African Olympian known as ‘blade runner’ for the carbon fibre blades that he has in place of his amputated lower legs. It’s because he is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
On February 14, 2013, Pistorius shot and killed Steenkamp. That much isn’t up for dispute, but his motives are. According to Pistorius, he awoke in the middle of the night and thought he heard an intruder in the bathroom. He grabbed his pistol and shot blindly into the bathroom multiple times, fatally wounding Steenkamp. Some have disputed his claims, stating that everything from the angle of the shot to shouting heard earlier that night paint a wholly different picture, one where Pistorius is not an overzealous defender spooked by what he thought were intruders but a man who shot and killed his girlfriend on purpose.
Further complicating the case is the fact that this is not Pistorius’s first brush with domestic violence. In 2009, he spent the night in jail after assaulting a 19-year-old girl, and there are claims that he’s threatened earlier girlfriends. There are also reports that Steenkamp made multiple calls to the police throughout the course of their relationship alleging physical violence by Pistorius.
Then, of course, there is the setting. While apartheid in South Africa ended in the 1990s, racial tensions remain high and the rich often live in isolation, behind barbed wire and surrounded by security, which lends weight to Pistorius’s story. However, South Africa also has shockingly horrifying satistics when it comes to domestic abuse and rape; a mind blowing 40 percent of South African men admit to having hit their partners and 25 percent have raped a woman. [via International Business Times]
While I do agree with TIME that the case deserves attention and the article itself goes into detail about both South Africa’s racial tensions and its culture of rape and abuse, I struggle with their decision to put Pistorius on the cover. While the cover text states, “Man, Superman, Gunman. Oscar Pistorius and South Africa’s Culture of Violence,” the photo they chose is an old one from his Olympic days that displays the athlete’s toned torso and the legs that have brought him his fame. Does this photo, in some way, glorify a killer? When you think back to the horrifying crimes that have made the news during your lifetime, who is it you remember? Is it the perpetrators or the victims? I fear that Steenkamp will be yet another name that we forget about, while her killer’s name lives on.
What do you think about this case, Lovelies? Do you think TIME has handled this correctly?