Kirst Bisset

The Reeva I Knew
16 May 2013

With the scintillation of Oscar Pistorius' next court appearance brewing in the minds of tabloid editors and pop-up journalists on social media, many people have, again, lost sight of the beauty on the receiving end of the bullets. 

Countless pieces have been written by those close to Pistorius unveiling a troubled man bubbling under the triumph and gold medals. But what about Reeva? A 29-year old woman with an inner beauty that was almost tangible. 

On the 14th of February 2013, I woke up in a Paris hotel room looking forward to a wonderfully romantic, albeit clichéd, walk through the city. I followed my usual Internet-addicted regimen and checked the latest happenings on Twitter. I was in disbelief as the first tweet about Oscar passed through my timeline, turning to my boyfriend and telling him how shocked I was that someone could make up such a vicious rumour. 

Then the news came from an official and trusted news source. And then another. And then another. I remember hoping, even praying, that Oscar had fallen into his womanising ways and that the slain woman was not my friend, but perhaps another fling. I vomited and the day turned into a blur. Seeing Oscar's face on a TV in the middle of Notre Dame made time stand still. 

I met Reeva at a FHM party in Sandton two years ago. Initially, I didn't recognise her. Her modeling pictures actually do her no justice. What immediately struck me was her humility - a very rare commodity in the modeling profession. There was so much more to her than a smile that would make your knees weak - there was a law degree, an enthralling sense of humour, and an unwavering desire to put others first. 

As time flew, Reeva and I grew closer and I was in awe of how as quickly as her brand grew, so did her perseverance and ambition. Her face was unmistakable and graced the pages of many magazines all over the country. Regardless of this, whenever we met, she would dance like nobody was watching, laugh until our heels wouldn't hold us anymore and, somewhere in between, discuss all life's opportunities and perils.  She had an astute business mind and never rested on her laurels. Still, regardless of the fame, she would go out of her way to greet you from across a crowded room. 

That's the Reeva I knew. She was neither a victim nor just a hot body on a magazine cover. 

What rights does that body have now? Generally, as a nation, we have been desensitised to violent crime. The rights of a victim die with them and, excluding friends and family, so do the memories of that victim. In instances such as this, it's not even about the victim, but scandal that couldn't be scripted by Hollywood's best. People rubbed their hands in glee as new developments surfaced during Oscar's bail application. People that actually needed to be reminded that the star of the show was somebody's daughter.  

The last three months have brought to the fore many issues pertinent to South Africa - domestic violence, gun control, rape and even law within the social media space. Reeva was an advocate for women's rights and took a stand against gender inequality. If the universe says that everything happens for a reason, then this awareness is what Reeva would've wanted. 

That's the Reeva I knew.


[This piece originally appeared on Women24]

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