Fatal Liaison

He was Famous and she was pretty


There is much to admire in the confidence that made Pistorius believe that he could challenge world running federations, and make them let him run. There was a clarity there, and inspiration, and the right kind of pride.

Oscar, 13 years old and at  school at a Pretoria boys school
Oscar, 13 years old and at school at a Pretoria boys school

But on the morning of February 14th, at approximately 3am, by his own admission Pistorius shot and killed someone through a locked bathroom door. It does not matter who that person was, he shot to kill. That he failed to establish who that person was or whether he knew who it was is irrelevant to the act – his intention under both scenarios was to kill. He knew it was someone and that is murder.

It does not matter what led up to the act, where he or she was prior to the shooting, how much arguing took place, which windows were open or closed or anything else. Pistorius found himself in front of a locked bathroom door with a gun in his hand and the certain knowledge that there was a human being on the other side. In that moment he had a decision to make; kill or do something else less lethal (fire a warning shot, run away, call for help – whatever). He chose deliberately to kill that person and that’s murder.


He cannot claim he was defending himself against a threat because by his own admission he had no idea who was there. Killing someone under those circumstances is murder. Killing the wrong person doesn’t mean he didn’t intend to kill someone.

That he is famous and she was pretty doesn’t make the event ‘a tragic mistake’. In the seconds before he pulled the trigger he made a fully conscious decision to kill whoever was behind that door – and we call that – murder.


There will be plenty of talk, about what brings athletes to both the highest levels of sports and to a place of domestic tragedy—publicity, pressure, even the unsettling question of performance-enhancing drugs and their psychological effects. That discussion is worth having.

But what matters even more, is what can happen in any home, in any room, with a man and a woman and a gun. Oscar Pistorius’s gun did not keep Reeva Steenkamp safe.





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