Murder by mistake is just as terrifying

Content note: this post discusses violence against women and murder.

Oscar Pistorius has been found not guilty of the killing of Reeva Steenkamp. Apparently, he could not reasonably expect that shooting several times through a door might kill someone.

Let’s pretend for a minute that Pistorius’s line–that he’d thought there was a black man in his house so he blindly shot through a door to protect himself and Reeva–was true. Who knows? Maybe, just maybe it was.

And that in itself is perhaps more chilling than the idea of a murder driven by hate, and anger and abuse. That suggests that Reeva died due to carelessness, indifference. That suggests that Reeva Steenkamp was collateral damage in a racist system.

It suggests that the lives of women are not valued at all, that nobody cares if we live or die, and it’s as easy to kill us by mistake as it is to accidentally tread on a snail on a rainy day. Nobody cares enough to keep us alive.

Hatred of women, I can understand and deal with. But where can one even begin when it comes to just carelessness?

The fact that this is an accepted legal defence and formed the verdict lays bare a structure that protects white men while casually ignoring everyone else.

Reeva Steenkamp died in a world that just doesn’t care. Her name will be forgotten, just as it is for all the others. Her fate will blur into all the others, because whether this indifference is true and real, or an excuse set up to protect men who hate women, it’s there.

Her name was Reeva Steenkamp, and she should still be here with us.

5 thoughts on “Murder by mistake is just as terrifying”

  1. I just can’t believe that after the first shot (or even before) he didn’t hear her familiar voice, a cry, a whimper, a …something? Surely she made some sound? In that case it is murder. Negligent, careless are just fancy words for fucking murdering a woman.

    1. Not really. He’s been found guilty of killing the person who was killed. The fact that it was Reeva Steenkamp was deemed irrelevant. The judgement is that it doesn’t matter who she was: she was just the person on the other side of the door.

      But she mattered. Who she was mattered.

    2. He was acquitted of premeditated murder and murder, and only found guilty of “culpable homicide” (a less serious charge with less jail time) despite a history of abuse, violence and terror to the point that past ex-girlfriends, fearful for their lives, hid his gun when he was mad.

      But domestic abuse is rampant is South Africa (and elsewhere) and many people (including judges) have blinders on when it comes to the abuse testimony of women. The result is a ruling that sends the message to men that you can murderl the women in your life, pretend it is an accident, and get away with the lie.

  2. Their legal system is a little different to the UK and USA. He killed her, but he was found not guilty of murder ie he didn’t plan it, he didn’t active out of rage etc, there wasn’t a pre-meditation, he thought he was defending himself was his argument. I can’t http think that surely, he would have shouted some kind of warning first, and heard Reeva’s voice. I’ve not been paying much attention to the case as it’s just not held that kind of interest for me (that sounds bad I know but I’ve had my own problems to deal with lately). He did kill her though, and there should be some punishment for that, I don’t know what that should be, but regardless of what it is, some will think it too lenient, and others will think it’s too harsh. If he deliberately meant to kill her, then he deserves the book throwing at him, if it was accidental, then I’m this case, he still needs to be punished, but it’s not like when someone kills someone accidentally while driving a car or other vehicle. We could all end up killing someone the next time were driving if someone steps out in front of us and we don’t have chance to react, I know I would feel terrible if something like that happened to me, but Oscar, whether he meant to or not, chose to fire a lethal weapon risking the life of another human being, and that cannot go unpunished.

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