Oscar Pistorius’ Fall From Grace

Oscar PistoriusOscar Pistorius, once a highly revered hero of the South African people, now fights for his life in and out of court. There’s an interesting dynamic in society that when someone is successful they have a huge following of those that want to bask in the other’s limelight; but when that same person falters, suddenly ghosts come out of the woodwork to help them fall faster. Oscar Pistorius’ fall from grace is no different.

The first double amputee to compete at the non-paralympics level, now faces murder charges in the 2013 death of his girlfriend, super-model Reeva Steenkamp. On Valentine’s Day Pistorius shot four bullets into a closed bathroom door killing Steenkamp within minutes. Oscar rose to international fame just six months before the fateful incident at his home in Pretoria, South Africa when he competed against able-bodied competitors at the London Summer Olympics in 2012.

Before Oscar Pistorius stepped into the courtroom, those who claimed have been part of the Pistorius “inner-circle” were racing to news outlets to share their experience of the “trip-switch” that was his real temperament. Prior to the 2013 incident, Pistorius was well-loved in his field, his community, and known for his international philanthropy dedicated to disabled children. One would have been hard pressed to find anyone who spoke poorly of the dedicated athlete before the February 2013 incident. Pistorius made more news in London from other athletes’ respect of his sportsmanship than his competitive prowess. Suddenly after this horrible and tragic situation suddenly anyone who ever shared the same oxygen with the athlete was racing for a camera to share their stories of criminal activity, abusive relationships, and a man filled with hate and vengeance.

Even as details of the incident change on a daily basis; opinions have already been solidified. Soon after the shooting the Pretoria police started releasing information about the case to news outlets before Oscar was even arraigned in court. This action caused protests of hundreds at the courthouse on the day after the shooting. The daily protests have grown in numbers over the last year forcing Pistorius into hiding at a secured unknown safe house somewhere in South Africa. Oscar Pistorius’ fall from grace has put into question the true aim of journalists worldwide.

Changes in how trials are reported over the last 20 years have caused a rise in individuals being convicted in the courts of public opinion before any facts are known. No longer does being found not guilty in court vindicate the accused. Even as the reporting of how events transpired have been debunked, sponsors are still pulling funds and leaving the athlete without the ability to make a livelihood. Event coordinators have pulled invitations to have the athlete compete at their competitions. Even gambling sites are offering odds for profit on a conviction. As he faces an already exhaustive trial we await his turn to take the stand so we can finally hear his side of the story. Till this point Oscar has remained silent yet the public has already sentenced him to life in prison.

This is a beyond horrible and a non-typical situation, but one begins to wonder why some judge so quickly before knowing the facts. One could ask if there is any hope for a comeback? Being weeks away from any decision that could put him behind actual bars, only time will tell if Oscar has any chance of recovery in his personal life if he is so fortunate to prove his innocence. As the world waits to see if he can indeed recover from his fall from grace.

Opinion by Kimberly Beller

Sources:
USA Today
The Huffington Post

36 Responses to "Oscar Pistorius’ Fall From Grace"

  1. Emily   April 1, 2014 at 1:42 am

    He’s a murderer, Heather, regardless of who he killed. If a supposed intruder locks themselves in a bathroom, they’re hardly a threat and the supposed intruder wasn’t firing bullets from the locked bathroom or bashing the bathroom door down with a bat. Put yourself in Reeva’s shoes, not Pistorius’ and imagine how fearful she was before he killed her. What kind of person defends a murderer? Someone with the same morals?

    Reply
    • Heather   April 1, 2014 at 10:54 am

      Emily, whilst I don’t feel it necessary to defend my morals to you, I am happy to. I wasn’t overly familiar with Oscar before this tragedy so my approach has been to take a long hard look at his life, his history and his background, all of which show a kind and compassionate man with a life embedded in family and faith. Whilst there has been much speculation and gossip since the tragedy, I found nothing before that would indicate that he was a man who would fleetingly take another person’s life.

      Then I tried to put myself in his place on that night. Difficult when I live in rural England and have never seen a gun outside of an airport, nevertheless I imagined what it must be like to live in a country with such a record of violence as S. Africa. I then imagined what it must be like to be a perceived target because of my fame and wealth and how this might make me live of the edge because of it. I then imagined what it would be to have no lower legs or feet and what it must be like at night, in the dark, feeling vulnerable and without reduced ability to take flight but with the responsibility for protecting myself, my loved one and my home (this wasn’t so difficult as my father was a double amputee and I understand the level of vulnerability he would feel). I then imagined how I might react if faced with a perceived threat at that moment.

      Personally, I find Oscar’s version of events more plausible than the alternative and I believe that what happened was a tragic accident. I accept that not everyone feels the same way, however at the very least people should respect the law and remain open minded until the whole of the trial has taken place and not make a judgement based on only the prosecution’s version of events and their own judgement of his character based on gossip and speculation. If this was a tragic error of judgement he deserves every bit of empathy and compassion we can give. And that is what I give to him willingly. So those are my morals, based on a respect for the law and an inherent ability to feel compassion and empathy for someone who will be forced to live with the dreadful knowledge that he taken the life of another, for the rest of his life.

      Please don’t infer from this that I don’t feel deeply for Reeva’s parents, I am the mother of two daughters and my heart breaks for them too. However, I can also imagine how it must be for Oscar’s family having to watch helpless as their son, brother, nephew, cousin has to go through such a dreadful ordeal. My heart breaks for him and them too. I pray that he receives more compassion from the judge and her assessors that he has received so far from those willing to set themselves up as judge and jury without the benefit of legal knowledge or substantiated evidence. And if that all makes me someone of questionable morals in your eyes, then so be it.

      Reply
    • michelelarkin2013   April 1, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      At last an objective take on the tragic incident which has cost a lovely young woman her life and the world an inspirational and exceptional athlete and human being. It is obvious to me that the reason why the press embraced the guilty theory with so much alacrity was purely and simply to capitalise on sensationalism and sell more copy than their competitors. Anyone who has delved properly and without prejudice into the matter cannot possibly accept the state’s accusation of PM.

      Reply
  2. Emily   March 31, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    It’s obvious Pistorius killed Reeva intentionally and anyone who can’t see that has their head buried in the sand – where he should be!!

    Reply
    • Heather   April 1, 2014 at 12:55 am

      It’s only obvious to those who are unable to put themselves in his ‘shoes’ for a few moments on that night. God help anyone who should make a tragic mistake.

      Reply
      • damon   April 1, 2014 at 1:41 am

        Putting four (yes four) bullets into a person is NOT a “tragic mistake”.

        Reply
      • damon   April 1, 2014 at 2:01 am

        …and why the battering down of the door with a cricket bat? He had a gun, why not shoot out the lock? Afraid of hurting someone?

        Reply
      • damon   April 1, 2014 at 2:05 am

        It was premeditated murder, and he should swing.

        Reply
        • amanda   April 1, 2014 at 3:18 am

          This is not the 1st tragic accident to happen in SA and I don’t remember eveyone jumping on the band wagon when the rugby player shot his daughter believing she was stealing his car. You don’t know how you would react to a person in your home under threat and you don’t know that is not what Pistorius was feeling you have not heard the other side of the story yet.

          Reply
          • damon   April 1, 2014 at 3:28 am

            Pistorius had a gun and was facing a closed door. Do you think he was ‘under threat’? Yet he fired four shots.

          • amanda   April 1, 2014 at 5:12 am

            Any suspect in your home is a threat, no body is disputing Oscar shot Reeva is the circumstances that are in question? And sadly the problem that many have in SA is the act first then ask questions as this sort of crime is prevalent, all am saying is you can judge without all the facts and what ever they are is very sad for all concerned

  3. Carol   March 31, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Thank you for this much needed balanced article. So refreshing for a change. I am of the opinion that he did not murder Reeva, but that it was a tragic accident. None of us knows yet exactly what happened and I believe he should be given the benefit of the doubt until we do. It is a sad indictment on society the way some feel the need to kick a man when he’s down. My heart bleeds for all concerned.

    Reply
    • damon   March 31, 2014 at 9:19 pm

      Pistorius has admitted that he deliberately shot at, and killed, a person he could not see, and who he had no valid reason to believe represented a threat. Any threat was in his imagination. But Reeva Steenkamp is dead, and he should be jailed for a very long time for killing her.

      Reply
  4. amanda langton   March 31, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    It’s nice to hear a balanced view, all the leaked evidence and the attempt by the state to prove PM, is shady to say the least. Until both sides have been heard no one should stand in judgement and neither should a person be persecuted in the mean time. This does not help Reeva family to come to terms with their loss,I think people are losing sight of the fact that what happens in one country does not happen in another and you need to take on board the different cultures and stop judging by your culture. The height of the shots show he did not intend to kill,not one is above the door handle and how does anyone know how you would react in a panick. Plus there is No motive people don’t wake up and think oh I’ll shoot some one for no reason. Got nothing better to do at 3 in the morning …see how Ridiculous it sounds?

    Reply
  5. Heather   March 31, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Kimberley, thank you for your article. I believe he is speaking the truth but what I believe is as irrelevant as the opinions of all those who have felt free to express the opposite. What is relevant is his legal and constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The comments to your article emphasise what you have said and it is clear that there are many who have no intention of waiting for even the defence to present its case, let alone the judgement of the court. These people feel qualified to present themselves as judge and jury based on months of media speculation and gossip. Sadly the phenomenon of taking immense pleasure of kicking a successful celebrity when he/ she is down prevails even when that celebrity is someone that has achieved so much good and has no criminal record or substantiated history of any wrongdoing. The level of hatred and vitriol that has been expressed towards this young man over the last 13 months has been beyond disturbing and for the most part, the media has been more than willing to provide a platform for the trial by public mentality to spread it’s poison. I am refreshed by your objectivity and willingness to criticise your own profession. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Adrian   March 31, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Looking at the comments here, it looks like a lot of the hate-mongering followed you here, in spite of your positive spin. It seems that, as you say, he has been tried and found guilty in the court of public opinion long before any evidence was given.

    Reply
    • damon   March 31, 2014 at 9:09 pm

      This is a bit silly Adrian. There is no “hate-mongering”. He has not been “tried and found guilty in the court of public opinion”. He has admitted deliberately killing someone, who turned out to be his girlfriend. His protestations of ignorance of her whereabouts appear less than credible, though I will leave it to the judge to determine that. However, he deserves to be jailed for a long time for wilful murder, knowing he was not in immediate danger, and that his behaviour was contrary to the gun safety regulations to which he had signed off.

      Reply
  7. Linda Argyros   March 31, 2014 at 5:51 am

    It still doesn’t explain the blood curdling screams after the first shot. Four neighbors have testified to hearing them and he certainly did too. He could have stopped after hearing her scream and knowing that was Reeva behind that door!! No excuse for firing three more shots through a locked door. Everything that happened after that is highly suspicious as well.

    Reply
  8. Teofilia   March 31, 2014 at 3:12 am

    a little mistake is ,he shoot four times…he wan’t supposed to be guilty! only GOD knows if he was intended to kill her.

    Reply
  9. damon   March 31, 2014 at 3:03 am

    Adrian,

    Your explanation does not make sense. If she did not reply, where would she be? The normal reaction would be to look for her, not to shoot holes in a locked toilet door.

    Reply
  10. Cece Day   March 31, 2014 at 2:54 am

    Bet Reeva’s mum is not sharing your perspective!

    Reply
  11. resty   March 31, 2014 at 2:32 am

    I think he know Who was behind that close door

    Reply
  12. Arno   March 31, 2014 at 1:33 am

    “One would have been hard pressed to find anyone who spoke poorly of the dedicated athlete before the February 2013 incident.” That is not entirely true, escept that the Pistorius PR machine immediately vilified anyone who dared to say anything less than complimentary about him, much like Lance Armstrong. Whether he knew it was Reeva or not, may determine how many years he spends in prison, not whether he goes or not. It is clear that he shot with intent to kill the person behind the door, by his own admission. So, he is guilty of at least manslaughter or culpable homicide.

    Reply
    • Adrian   March 31, 2014 at 1:42 am

      I for one hated the guy before the shooting. I thought he was a cheater by taking advantage of the bouncing blades, and his PR team covered up the fact that the IOC had banned him from competing in able bodied sporting events because he was getting an unfair advantage! I just hated the whole dishonesty of the whole thing. He wasn’t inspirational to me – he was a cheater. But everyone was too scared to say anything because of his disability. Well, disabled people cheat too.

      But, in saying that, he certainly won’t be found guilty of murder, and I think it will get down to what he says when he takes the stand as to whether he is guilty of negligent homicide, which, for the record, has the same requirement of guilt of negligence causing death, or 3rd degree murder – which is one level below manslaughter. In other jurisdictions that would lead you with a 1-3 year jail at most, or a good behaviour bond. About the same as if you have an unsafe restaurant and someone dies from food poisoning. I know that South Africa has different laws to the rest of the world, but I would be very surprised if he spends any time behind bars at all.

      Reply
      • Carol   March 31, 2014 at 5:56 pm

        Adrian I really don’t know how you can say you “hated the guy”, for cheating. I don’t believe he was cheating at all, i mean he’s an athlete with no legs, he runs on legitimate carbon fibre running blades, why shouldn’t he try to run against able bodied athletes? YOU may think they give him some sort of advantage but if they really did he’d be faster than able bodied athletes. Surely any athlete worth their salt wants to test themselves against the best? Surely that’s not “cheating”?!

        Reply
        • Sarah   March 31, 2014 at 8:48 pm

          I think the point is – if these blades give him such an advantage then why are other disabled athletes not using this advantage and competing against the able bodied?

          Reply
  13. damon   March 31, 2014 at 12:45 am

    Kimberly,

    Reeva entered the toilet dressed in shorts and a top. This was after supposedly waking from sleep, in a darkened room. She had her shorts on, and was standing in a locked room when she was shot. I don’t think it can reasonably be concluded that she was in the toilet for the standard reason; nor is it reasonable that a man, no matter how alarmed, would not call out to his lover before confronting a (presumably) armed intruder.

    I admire your fortitude in presuming his lack of intent, but he did shoot, and shot to kill.

    Reply
    • Adrian   March 31, 2014 at 1:37 am

      Damon,

      I believe it will be argued that she went to the toilet to snoop, by stealing Oscar Pistorius’s mobile phone because she had suspected him of cheating on her. She awoke and locked the door so that he would not walk in on her snooping. In turn, this is why she was quiet and did not reply to her shouting out to her.

      This is a neat explanation for everything, and other media outlets have previously suggested it, based on the fact that both mobile phones were found next to her body – not just Reeva’s. Reeva had both of them on her person when she was shot.

      A bit unfortunate, but a thoroughly believable explanation, without getting into the whole “she was scared of him” line. Not scared of him – just thought he was cheating on her.

      Adrian

      Reply
      • damon   April 1, 2014 at 12:24 am

        Good try, but why was she not seated? My father used to read the paper in the toilet, but he didn’t stand in the corner to do it. The natural thing is to sit down. She was shot while standing.

        Reply
  14. alan bond   March 30, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    please ask yourself what if that was you behind the locked door

    Reply
  15. Sam   March 30, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    By his own admission, he is not innocent. He fired four shots into a closed door knowing there was somebody behind it. His intention was to kill that person and he succeeded. It will be impossible for the court to find him not guilty.

    Reply
    • Kimberly Beller   March 30, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      Clearly he did believe someone was behind the door, that is not the question. The question is did he know WHO was behind the door. I believe that until facts are all on the table we should reserve judgement before we chose to ruin lives.

      Reply
      • Amanda   March 31, 2014 at 3:13 am

        Are you from South Africa? I’m a former South African citizen. Gun laws there do not allow you to shoot if you are not under immediate threat. Therefore he is NOT justified for shooting through a closed toilet door FOUR TIMES. So by South African law, that is ALREADY ENOUGH FACT TO JUMP IN SOMEONE FOR DOING SUCH A THING.

        Reply
        • Amanda   March 31, 2014 at 3:15 am

          *to judge someone

          Reply
  16. Adrian   March 30, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Thank you for this informative piece of perspective. With so much hate-mongering about this incident, it is refreshing to read something speaking from the other side. If only more in the media were as well-balanced as you are.

    Reply
    • Kimberly Beller   March 30, 2014 at 11:03 pm

      Thank you, I believe it needed to be said and if I could share my opinion it would have been a more bold statement.

      Reply

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