17 June 2016
A South African editors’ organisation on Friday welcomed the decision of a Pretoria court to allow the publication of crime scene photos of the dead body of Reeva Steenkamp.
The 29-year-old model was shot dead by her boyfriend, the double-amputee Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius, through a door at his Pretoria home in the early hours of February 14, 2013.
Judge Thokozile Masipa accepted Pistorius’ version that he mistook Steenkamp for a burglar, and sentenced him to five years in prison.
But an appeals court changed the manslaughter verdict to murder, forcing Masipa to issue a new sentence, which is due to be announced on July 6.
During re-sentencing proceedings this week, Steenkamp’s father, Barry, requested that the ban on the publication of the crime scene photos be lifted for “the world to see, the wounds inflicted onto Reeva, and the pain that she must have gone through’’.
Photos showing the bloody head of Steenkamp have subsequently been published by some non-mainstream South African media.
“We are happy about the court ruling, because it means more transparency about court proceedings and allows the public to be fully informed about court proceedings,’’ Barry said.
Chairman of the association Mpumelelo Mkhabela is the Chairman of South African National Editors’ Forum, an independent organisation representing editors and journalists.
The ruling also reflects “a total transparency of media freedom’’, Mkhabela said.
If anyone felt that the pictures violated South Africa’s media ethics code, they could complain to the independent Press Council, the chairman said.