Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

10 March 2014

South Africa: Analysis - Pistorius Trial Meets a Twilight Zone of Privacy and Privilege

analysis

Judge Thokozile Masipa's decision not to allow any live media coverage of Reeva Steenkamp's postmortem coverage was doubtless undertaken for the noblest possible reasons. But that still doesn't mean it was the perfect call - particularly because it reinforces the perceived discrepancy between the way white and black bodies are treated in death, or the idea that famous people have greater rights to dignity and privacy than folk on the street.

The evidence given by pathologists as to exactly how Reeva Steenkamp met her death was always going to be grim. In an article last year, we predicted: "Like Anene [Booysen], Reeva risks becoming simply the site for the violence of an angry man. We will pore over coroner reports of where the bullets entered her body. We will deliberate, humiliatingly, over whether or not her bladder was empty when the first shot struck. It will be an objectification more intense than any in her modelling career."

To have your body scrutinised so publicly and clinically in death is part of the ongoing brutality inflicted on the victims of violent crime. It is also, unfortunately, an irreplaceable means of trying to establish as accurately as possible the...

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