By Maham Shakeel.
Image courtesy of Reeva Steenkamp via Instagram.
On February 19, Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old South African model was buried after she was
shot four times by her boyfriend Oscar Pistorius on Valentine’s Day.
Pistorius was charged with premeditated murder, though he says the murder was unintended as
he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder in his home. On February 22, Pistorius was granted bail.
His next court appearance is scheduled for June 4.
The day she was murdered, Steenkamp was scheduled to give a motivational speech for the
empowerment of women at Sandown High School, said her publicist, Sarita Tomlinson.
Steenkamp was not shy in sharing an abusive relationship from her past which she was involved
in years before Pistorius was in the picture. She told Heavy, a South African entertainment
magazine that the violence she faced in that relationship was what convinced her to move to
Johannesburg. Steenkamp was to share this experience on February 14 with the students of
Sandown High School.
Tomlinson had a copy of Steenkamp’s speech with parts she made public. It included Steenkamp
describing her loss of the self-worth as a result of the abusive relationship she experienced and
how she had to remind herself of the value she had in the world. This message was something
she hoped to pass on the day she was murdered.
Tomlinson told the media about the strength of Steenkamp’s spirit. She described Steenkamp
as “the sweetest, kindest, just, angelic soul” and at the same time “a very inspiring individual,
very passionate” in all her works.
Several news stories refer to Steenkamp more as “Oscar Pistorius’ girlfriend” than her name
alone, but before she started dating the man, Steenkamp was already well known for her own
She was born in Cape Town and raised in Port Elizabeth. She graduated from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University with a Bachelors in Law in 2005 and worked as a paralegal. She was accomplished in the modelling industry, and was a presenter for FashionTV in South Africa, the face of Avon, a model for Toyota and an FHM cover girl.
Steenkamp was also named in the “FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World” poll for the past two
years, where she ranked number 40 in 2011 and number 45 in 2012. FHM described her as
a “beautiful, intelligent and warm-hearted woman” who had a “wicked” sense of humor.
Steenkamp was preparing for her debut in a reality TV game show called “Tropika Island of
Treasure” in which local celebrities have the chance to compete for money. The show aired a few
days before Steenkamp’s funeral in her honour, said producers on the show’s website which also
went on to describe her as a powerful young woman.
Steenkamp’s efforts for empowering women were never veiled. She used social media as a tool
to bring the subject to her followers minds.
A few days before her own violent death, Steenkamp uploaded a post on Instagram that talked
about a 17-year-old girl who was a victim of rape. The post read, “I woke up in a happy safe
home this morning. Not everyone did. Speak out against the rape of individuals in SA [South
Africa]. RIP Anene Booysen.”
The day before her death, not knowing she would be a victim herself, Steenkamp used twitter to
promote the “Black Friday” campaign, which asked South Africans to dress in black in honour of
women raped and killed in the country, often by their partners.
At Steenkamp’s funeral, her uncle, Mike Steenkamp said, “She stood against abuse against
women, I think the Lord knows that her statement is more powerful now.” M