On 14th February 2013 an incident took place that shocked the world. The esteemed and highly regarded Oscar Pistorius had been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius was a trailblazer within sport, he was the first Paralympian to compete in the Olympics and managed to progress through his first heat against the most elite able bodied competition on the planet. In South Africa Pistorius is a national hero for what he has done, the world of sport looked up to him in the same way they did Lance Armstrong for the barriers they have overcome. Once again though, something has happened to destroy their reputation.
According to Pistorius he came home and thought there was an intruder in the bathroom, he shot said intruder four times before knocking the door down with a baseball bat and realising it was his girlfriend. Many questions have to be raised at this point, whether Pistorius did it or not is irrelevant to a certain extent, the issues that should be raised are those to highlight why someone’s first instinct upon hearing an intruder in the bathroom is to shoot them four times.
South Africa and Johannesburg in particular has a reputation as a crime ridden place, there are vast amounts of shooting, robberies, kidnappings and rape cases so to a certain extent it is understandable that civilians would want to arm themselves. With this though you then raise the issue of whether they should be able to shoot first and think later. Had it actually been a burglar in Pistorius’ bathroom then would it be right to shoot him four times without warning? No it wouldn’t. The door was shut which meant the robber wouldn’t have known Pistorius was even there and there is a good chance that as normally happens he would have fled the scene had he been spotted. It speaks of a broken culture and a lack of respect for a human life to think that a simple robbery deserves instant death. For the moment I am putting aside the obvious question of “why would you think that a person in the bathroom with the door shut is a robber?” and just talking about the case objectively.
The housing compound where he lived has some of the best security Johannesburg, he lived in an area where there are lots of rich and famous people and the chances of there being a violent crime against him are pretty low. Since the shooting happened the government should now be looking in to what they can do to make sure this doesn’t happen again, banning guns will never happen in a country like South Africa so they must make the sentences for people who have used their gun much more severe unless of course they have feared for their life and been physically intimidated. In a perfect world Pistorius would be sent to jail no matter what in the trial, he used very poor judgement and should never have used a gun in that situation in the first place.
Sarah Hewitt is a new blogger who blogs about anything and everything. You can contact her via her Twitter page or Google+