Sandile Memela
Sandile Memela

Oscar would be a hero if Reeva were a black man

[For an update to this post see An apology to my fellow countrymen by Sandile Memela]

Would Oscar Pistorius be on trial for murder if Reeva Steenkamp had turned out to be a black man?

In fact, on Valentine’s Day last year when Pistorius fired four fatal shots at close range through a locked bathroom door he thought he was hitting an intruder. Or so he wants the black female judge and the world to believe.

Had he killed a black man, would it be an issue?

You see, when some whites buy and collect guns, it is to kill two things: animals and black people. In fact, as far as some gun-toting white males are concerned, sometimes there is no distinction between the two. There are more than a few instances where white males have shot and killed black men and children thinking they were shooting at animals.

I think there wouldn’t be a trial if he had shot and killed a black man of any age. Instead, he may have been hailed as a hero and even given an award that would have read: “Here is a man who did good by shooting to kill a black thief!” Everyone would have understood and accepted that crime has reached intolerable levels in our society. The perpetrators are often black men who are unemployed and poverty-stricken. And they deserve to be shot down in cold blood for disturbing the peace of suburban life?

Many white South Africans live in fear of being attacked by black male criminals. Much as they may build sky high walls, they must double that with high-calibre guns in case black security men at the gate allow them to slip through. You cannot trust a black man. This is what white paranoia has driven some white men to do: shoot first and ask questions later. We all know and accept it is mostly black men who are robbers and thieves who prey on hard-working white families. This is the story of our lives.

We know that Pistorius made a terrible mistake. As a white male, you do not kill a white woman, especially the one you professed to love. Your role and responsibility is to protect and defend her against thugs. But if you happen to have killed her, for whatever reason, you must pin the blame on an intruder. Nobody will raise questions. It is expected for white men to shoot and kill black men to protect their property and beloved families.

I am not sure if the court will even consider the possibility of what would have happened if Pistorius had killed a black man. Will that issue even feature as an agenda item?

For those of us who are black men, it is painful to see how our lives have become cheap. We get killed for our cellphones and for driving expensive cars. Above all, we are condemned for being the source of white insecurity and fear in this beautiful land. It is okay if a white man buys and collects guns to — when allegedly provoked or threatened — shoot to kill. The black man is always a suspect, a target. And for the rest of the world, it is understandable and acceptable if a white man shoots to kill to defend his land, property and family.

In a country where the majority of the population is black, we should be concerned about how the business of justice is conducted in this most unequal land. Something in the soul of this nation dies, has died because of the emotionless way we brush off the killing of black men. There is no doubt, at least, in my mind that Oscar would have been forgiven for mercilessly killing a black man who would have broken into his house. There would be no debate on that, let alone international interest in the trial. What is another dead black man who would have been pumped with bullets for intrusion? He would have gotten what he deserved. Kill the black dog!

I tell you there would have been no speculation about why the black man would have entered Pistorius’s home. He would, even in death, have been tried and condemned for having been a robber and a thief in his motherland. Nobody would have cared for the circumstances that led him to prey on people at night. Yet when black men commit crimes, it is not because they are criminal by nature. Sometimes they are forced by economic circumstances — inequality, poverty, unemployment and envy for what white people have. Sometimes it is a deep-seated desire for revenge for stolen land and the monopolisation of mineral resources and wealth.

As Alan Paton said in his Cry, the Beloved Country, “it is fear that rules the country”, especially in the mind of some white man. They will carry guns to protect themselves and their families against black thugs? If not, they will lock themselves up behind high walls with electrical fences. And if they kill black men who try to steal, it is understandable. They could walk free to … continue killing black men!

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    • Fleur Honeywill

      This is a thought provoking blog. I have been asking myself similar questions, but not in such racist terms. Is it OK to shoot dead an intruder locked in the bathroom 4 times? It’s a sure bet that the person on the other side of the door will be dead. But, it’s not OK to shoot someone who is not an intruder locked in the bathroom 4 times? I did not think of this in race terms, although I had to laugh about the comment of white men and their guns. It is quite funny when you think about it. This comment lends itself to a tautological discussion. Would thieves break into houses without guns if the home owner did not have a gun? Would home owners not keep guns in the house if thieves broke in to houses without guns? As a thief do you take a knife to a gun battle? To me this trial shows up a pathetic side of SA culture whereby we idolise celebrities and that is why this trial is so important. A beautiful blond bikini model gets shot by a celebrity, who just happens to be white and rich. I see the media did not sensationalise the brutal rape and murder of a 4 year old girl whose body was hung on a hook by her murderer. That brutal man went to trial in record time and was convicted on the basis of forensic evidence. Now that is justice at work. What this trial shows up is not the racial divide, it shows up the class divide. This couple could just as easily have been black, but the man would have to be rich to afford such a legal team. Thanks for the article!

    • Jan

      The white people i know want to live in peace and harmony with blacks and all other groups in south africa.we love south africa and all its people.if there are whites with a racist attitude,it is unexceptable for all moderate south africans,black and white.as i am against white racism i am against black racism.

    • Maria

      I cannot believe that any person in this country still thinks that we as a nation can irradicate racism and hatred with articles like this! Sandile Memela, your article serves no point accept to feed the fire of racism and hatred in South Africa. Murder is wrong on all levels. It really does not matter which colour is killing and which colour is being killed! Stealing is also wrong! And again colour has absolutely nothing to do with it. And yes, it is also wrong for civil servants to feed their own pockets and allow the population to become empoverished and hungry. In SA it is free for all… if the government will not supply education and a job, we the people wil steal and murder! and if the government will not supply security, we the people will shoot to defend ourselves. I guess he who owns the gold makes the rules and if we don’t like it we must make (or steal) our own gold!

    • Fred Barredo

      # Fleur Honeywill – It is pretty much the same the world over. Celebrity sells and that’s that.

    • Gabila

      Hmm,quite a sensitive piece with delicate issues, it is statistically correct that perpetrators are black, in the country where I come from there is a chance in a hundred that an intruder will leave you dead, unless his mission was to take you out, they come for the money or the items, hold everyone down, collect the stuff and go but in SA they want to also rape and kill, you really cannot blame it on whites for feeling insecure, when I see blacks straying in my neighborhood I feel insecure as a black man, maybe when enough white people start committing crime we will start feeling insecure around white males…I also wish this went beyond a lament to proposing a way forward, instead of the plight of the poor black male who is not that innocent I should say, methinks the problem lies elsewhere, not in gun taunting white males but perhaps in the socio economic conditions of our people on general, when a black minister rides a 7 series and leaves in a mansion behind public and private security and claims to be serving the majority of a population for whom life is just survival you cannot blame it on whites if they take to crime and are shot in the process, as a black man , I disagree with your propositions, let black politics be less elitist,develop concern for their fellow suffering black males and get them gainfully employee and we will not be having this race discussion, when every one has enough to live on,why will they want to break in next door.

    • Graham

      “But if you happen to have killed her, for whatever reason, you must pin the blame on an intruder. Nobody will raise questions.”
      No questions?? He is on trial for murder.

      As for the rest of the article, well, see above comments.

    • A Taylo

      You are being simple. If Oscar or anyone had shot a black man who was his overnight guest that would be murder, and if a pretty white woman had broken in to his home and been shot that might have been justifiable. It’s not the colour or sex of the victim that is at question, it is the circumstances and motive.

    • Elwet

      Dear Sir, your article is truly a load bull. White people even children are also killed and mugged for their cell phones their parents for their vehicles, expensive or not. Crime does not only affect black men, but this country as a whole. So take your Black Man remarks and put them where the sun doesn’t shine as I know many black men that live in as much fear as I do, a white woman. We can’t build a nation free of race hatred with people like you writing hogwash like this, thought provoking or not!

    • Theo Marx

      I cannot believe people still try and make racist issues out of everything that happens in this country. Its a sign of the stale state of “journalism” in South Africa by the governmedia and indeed the current regime. Thoughtleader? I think not. Maybe Racistleader will be more apt.

    • Domino

      What nonconstructive , racist drivel! Already this tragedy has created a vortex into which time, emotions and means are disappearing – to no avail, as a lovely young life will remain eternally unlived. To add this speculative, sensationalistic racist comment seems cheap and opportunistic: any platform will be grabbed and abused in the name of the Black Cause. You are doing harm!

    • Kris Marais

      What % of the gun killings in SA last year i(2013) saw white males pulling the trigger? How many of the Marikana cops who killed people on that tragic day were white males?

    • danie

      You hate and you ooze racism!!

    • Paul Oxley

      I see my previous comment calling Memela out for his racist rant was removed.

      The truth hurts, but censorship imprisons us all!

    • Vlok Bauermeister

      The only racist here is Sandile Memela, I believe he is saying this , knowing it is a load of crap but he is just trying to create a stir.

      He should be prosecuted for his statement whch is utter nonsense!

      Unfortunately in our current world any fool can take to the stage and say anything to the world be it true or untrue.

      Sandile Memela = RACIST

    • Dave L

      Well done, Mamela. You even got yourself a special mention by the FW de Klerk foundation who are accusing you of hate speech.

    • LUNDI

      The interesting thing is that Memela you captured all my sentiments about this OP trial. I have posted them on my facebook update on different days. Well done brother, lets start talking South Africa. Oh yes this is painful truth. Its time white people do self introspection about their prejudices against black people. More so, its time they know that we can see them and now we are beginnig to breakdown into small pieces their prejudices against black. As we do we shall write fearlessly and will only write the truth

    • Pedro Citoyen

      This article would have a good point, if this country was merely facing an epidemic of house-breaking and burglary. In other words, property theft. But that’s not what we’re facing. What we are facing is an epidemic of home invasions accompanied by torture, rape, assault and murder.

    • http://N/A Mojalefa

      What I can say about Sandile Memela’s commetary is that it surpasses belief ! To borrow Mr Memela’s words , those of us who are black males, your article should fill us with shame. His article exposes his ignorant understanding of the landscape of South Africa.

    • Goitseone Montsho

      This article touches on an issue we as Siuth Africans refuse to touch…thank you Mr Sandile Memela…he is right of course people have the right to protect themselves but not every black man is a thief. What Sandile is saying is that the white world has become so paranoid with black crime that they think it is okay to shoot at something or someone based on that paranoia. That even when they do ‘shoot to kill’ they forget the essence of human life. I once drove with my brothers into the Suburb of Pretoria North which is Predominantly white at night within an hour we had police surround us guns pointed as if we were common criminals…but what really happened was some paranoid white guy saw two black people passing by in a car and called the police in fear of his safety…the police searched our cars and this guy drove up to us asking us what we want in his neighbourhood eh? All I am saying is in a country where the majority is black and every time you see a black man you fear for your safety then you are going to fear for your safety a lot of the times…so get over yourselves and your paranoia and remember just because I am black does not mean I want your possessions…tog

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    • Jane Holland

      Goitseone Montsho – your comments make absolutely no sense. Firstly, you are presuming that Oscar thought it was a black man behind the door and as a result shot to kill. But in fact I don’t think that he has once confirmed which sex or race he thought the person behind the door was, only that he thought it was an intruder.

      The ironic thing is that 99% of the white South African’s I have spoken to about this trial believe he is guilty of premeditated murder and should be put in jail for life. This is not because a white women was shot dead but because he was careless to shoot at a locked door when he was not in actual danger.

      The other irony is that this article has turned this case into an attack on ALL white South African and yet above you mention that we should not presume that ALL black people are criminals. Can you not see that you are being completely contradictory?

      I think it is so sad that this type of article would be published. As South African’s we should all be sticking together black, white, male and female to fight crime and right the wrongs of the past so that we can all live in harmony and enjoy our beautiful country. But I suppose that is wishful thinking when people like Sandile Memela have this type of platform to publicly share their racist remarks and reinforce to the world that we are still the same country we were post 1994. You should both be ashamed of yourselves.

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    • Straighttalk

      I see no reason why article like Sandile Memela’s shouldn’t be published. This is the truth and the only truth that will remain. Yes lets stick together and make this a better country but that will never change the reality that as long as a white man still sees a black man as a threat as indicated by Goitseone Montsho, then forget reunite. As the matter of fact, as long as we still have black and white in this country not human beings, we are not going anywhere.

    • Jon Low

      And when you penned this racist spite, you had no idea that the phantom feared by Oscar would, within a year’s time, claim the life of your own son. And that it wasn’t just a phantom that you could scoffingly dismiss. That’s hubris for you, Sandile. Condolences on your loss.