Life, etc

Not trending: #loveandsupportoscar

By Greg Nicolson 17 February 2013

It appeared Oscar Pistorius had some support on Sunday after #loveandsupportoscar started trending on Twitter in South Africa. A scroll through the hashtag’s timeline, however, shows that the Olympian, charged with murdering his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, is #HatedAndAbandoned, at least by Twitter. By GREG NICOLSON.

It’s little wonder the latest war of words over Pistorius was started by an ex-girlfriend. After the athlete’s arrest for shooting and killing Steenkamp at his Pretoria home in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last Thursday, media have trawled through the list of beautiful blonde partners the athlete dated.

#loveandsupportoscar was first tweeted by his ex-girlfriend Jenna Edkins. “You have all my familys love and support #loveandsupportoscar” she wrote on Friday. She followed it up with, “All I am saying is let him speak, let his side be heard without jumping to conclusions.. Love and thoughts to Reevas family..” and then her last tweet, on Friday at 3:37, before Pistorius wept in his bail application in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court: “I would just like to say, I have dated Oscar on off for 5 YEARS, NOT ONCE has he EVER lifted a finger to me, made me fear for my life..”

That was Edkins’s eighth tweet since she started on the platform on 24 June last year. She was photographed with Pistorius in 2008-09 as his girlfriend. While Pistorius’s management has enlisted the services of British public relations guru Stuart Higgins, former editor of UK tabloid The Sun, it appears #loveandsupportoscar trended not because of a real or manufactured attempt to build sympathy for the athlete, but the outrage the hashtag caused.

In the day after Edkins’s tweet, a few sympathisers repeated her message of support and included the handles of Oscar’s brother and sister, Carl and Aimee. But the topic didn’t start trending until Sunday morning when a few users with more followers SMH’d (shake my head). Thousands of tweets followed, with very few expressing support for Pistorius. Rather, they condemned the idea of a public campaign to champion a man who allegedly murdered his girlfriend.

@Vee_Bee wrote “#loveandsupportoscar has proven how stupid humanity is. Since when do we blindly support a murderer when the evidence is clearer each day?” @Jika_Uthi was more blunt: “Fuck you hey” he replied to Edkins’s tweet. “Another family lost a daughter, forever” replied @ZaleneM. A small minority of Twitter users retweeted Edkins’s message of support, with some like @LeeBugz adding a simple “Yes!”

Pistorius enjoyed public sympathy when details first emerged of the killing on Thursday morning. A police officer incorrectly told Afrikaans daily Beeld Pistorius had mistaken Steenkamp as an intruder in a Valentine’s Day surprise gone wrong. But as details continue to emerge, the hero has lost his shine and much of the public is reeling, wondering if it is possible that an idol could be capable of murder.

City Press dominated the headlines on Sunday with new details of Steenkamp’s death. The newspaper said police found a bloodied cricket bat at Pistorius’s house and her head was “crushed”. Its sources said Steenkamp obviously had spent the night. Around 3:20 Pistorius called his father requesting him to come over. When the family arrived he was carrying his girlfriend and trying to revive her. Steenkamp died shortly after paramedics arrived. According to City Press, one cartridge was found in the bedroom and three near the toilet where Steenkamp, it is speculated, ran.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Oscar’s 59-year-old father Henke maintained that his son meant to shoot an intruder and blamed South Africa’s crime problem. “When you wake up in the middle of the night – and crime is so endemic in South Africa – what do you do if somebody is in the house? Do you think it’s one of your family? Of course you don’t,” he told the British paper. “When you are a sportsman, you act even more on instinct… It’s instinct – things happen and that’s what you do.”

Pistorius will return to the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday and Wednesday for his bail hearing. As details continue to emerge, it seems unlikely #loveandsupportoscar will get much traction on Twitter or in the courtroom.  DM

Photo by Reuters


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