Pistorius Tragedy, Characters Prove a Never-Ending Soap Opera in South Africa

By Serino, Kenichi | The Christian Science Monitor, February 27, 2013 | Go to article overview

Pistorius Tragedy, Characters Prove a Never-Ending Soap Opera in South Africa


Serino, Kenichi, The Christian Science Monitor


The Oscar Pistorius saga continues to zig and zag through South African Twitter feeds, townships, taxi driver chat, and posh suburban clubs like some monster rogue soap opera that no one can turn off.

The simplest aspects of the Pistorius celebrity crime are salacious enough to build a media bonfire: A hugely admired Olympian double amputee accused of shooting his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day, in cold blood. Mr. Pistorius maintains the slaying was an accident.

Yet the story got additionally fueled almost from the moment police arrived at Pistorius's exclusive Silver Woods gated community by a crazy-quilt set of unexpected developments.

One after another, headlines and eccentricities have poured out: The investigating officer for the prosecution, Hilton Botha, was replaced since he faces unresolved attempted murder charges.

South Africans then got treated to the discovery that Pistoriuss brother, Carl, still faces charges of culpable homicide for a traffic accident in 2010 that left a woman dead.

Next, Pistoriuss aunt, Micki Pistorius, emerged as having worked as a top crime suspect profiler for the police, handling many murder cases. The Independent Online of South Africa reported that Ms. Pistorius, as a university lecturer, would habitually encircle herself with books to absorb their knowledge because circles have magic powers. She also claims to possess extrasensory perception.

Theres even curiosity and head-shaking this week not just among cartoonists about the oddity of having a man named Oscar being the No. 1 story at a time of the Academy Awards, but also following Pistoriuss announcement that he will hold a private service for Ms. Steenkamp at his uncles Pretoria home.

Such details, coming packed into a crime involving one of the few national heroes that most South Africans can agree about in an otherwise complex nation, simply get amplified and hyped.

From our view, South Africa hasn't had that many heroes to be proud of since Nelson Mandela. We're kind of desperate to hold onto every hero, says Max du Preez, who founded and edited Vrye Weekblad, an anti-apartheid newspaper that uncovered death squads. …

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