Everyone is going to have an opinion on Oscar Pistorius over the weeks and months to come. I’m sure that most people already have some sort of an opinion.
He was the golden boy. He was the disabled athlete who was taking on the World and, if not exactly winning, then, at the the very least, making a name for himself, and that name was ‘Bladerunner’. He was hailed as an ambassador for his troubled homeland of South Africa and for the physically disabled everywhere.
We do hold these people up as examples. We hold them up as role models and as heroes. They are not necessarily any of those things. Being capable in any field, being disabled and being from a troubled nation does not automatically exempt anyone from being misguided, stupid, violent, misogynistic or even homicidal. We are what we are and our creeds, colours, nationalities, genders, skill-sets, or even our physical capabilities do not alter that.
There has been a lot of contradictory information in the press about what might have happened in Pistorius’s house when his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was fatally shot. The most recent articles that I’ve read, suggest that she was shot through a locked bathroom door. She was shot, or so I understand, through the shoulder, chest and head. Pistorius claims that it was an accident.
Disregarding all earlier claims that Pistorius shot in self-defence, believing Steenkamp to be an intruder into his home in a gated community in Pretoria, I have a simple theory about what might have happened early on Thursday morning, Valentine’s day. It relies only on Oscar Pistorius being angry and stupid. Most of us might never have been quite as angry as he must have been that day to have done what he did, and most of us might never have been quite as stupid as he must be to have done what he did, and let's not talk about the fact that most of us don't keep guns in our homes, but here’s my theory, non-the-less.
It is as simple as it could possibly be.
Steenkamp and Pistorius argued. Upset and perhaps a little afraid, Steenkamp ran into the bathroom, locked the door and slumped onto the bathroom floor in tears.
Pistorius was angry, and he tried to get into the bathroom to continue the argument. When he realised he couldn’t, he did what he had seen done a hundred times on tv shows and in the movies. He took his gun, and he fired into the lock on the bathroom door. He probably held the gun close to the lock, straight-armed, and fired at a downward angle.
If Steenkamp was sitting behind the door as he fired into the lock, the shots might easily have found their ways into her head, shoulder and chest.
All of that is about anger, and about mindless copying of what he had seen in the mass media. It is about mindless, childlike behaviour in a way. I don’t know Pistorius’s character, but I don’t think this is terribly farfetched.
The rest is about stupidity, about a young man trying to cover his tracks when he feels cornered, knowing that he has done wrong. Relying on an intruder story when South Africa is so troubled by crime isn’t remotely farfetched, even though the circumstances of the shooting soon made this scenario unlikely. This behaviour, if anything, reinforces the hypothesis. If Pistorius genuinely didn’t know that Steenkamp was slumped in a sitting position behind the locked bathroom door, and it was only his intention to gain entrance, then he must have been totally shocked and horrified to find that he’d injured and possibly even killed his girlfriend. All kinds of things might happen in his mind at that point, including self-preservation.
I’m not entirely convinced that any justice system finds the whole truth the whole of the time, but I hope that in this case it does.
I don’t know any more than anyone else knows what happened in that house, but I hope that justice is done for Reeva Steenkamp, a woman of only twenty-nine, who should not have died. There is no doubt that Oscar Pistorius killed her, the only doubt, I suppose, is whether the killing was accidental, deliberate or even premeditated.
I know that’s a jury I wouldn’t like to have to sit on. I suspect this trial isn't going to be pretty, but I suspect we're all going to see a very great deal of it on our screens and in our papers, and I suspect it will live long in our memories, almost certainly longer than Reeva Steenkamp will.