Anger and grief at funeral of Steenkamp
The body of model Reeva Steenkamp arrives at the Victoria Park Crematorium. photograph: rogan ward/reuters
Amid the grief, some mourners at South African model Reeva Steenkamp’s funeral yesterday demanded punishment for her boyfriend, Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius, who has been charged with her murder.
A hearse took Ms Steenkamp’s body to the Victoria Park Crematorium in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth for a private funeral attended by more than 100 relatives and friends.
“Without a doubt he’s a danger to the public. He’ll be a danger to witnesses. He must stay in jail. He’s already shown how dangerous he can be for what he did to Reeva,” said Gavin Venter, an ex-jockey who worked for Ms Steenkamp’s father.
As Mr Pistorius was appearing in court in Pretoria, friends of Ms Steenkamp walked up a path to the Port Elizabeth crematorium, some holding hands or carrying flowers. After the hour-long ceremony, relatives stood outside and friends paid their condolences, hugging Ms Steenkamp’s parents, in the serene wooded area dotted with tombstones.
“It was a total shock. It is only sinking in right now,” said former classmate Bongiwe Gaxamba (29).
The killing of law school graduate Ms Steenkamp (29) has once again highlighted South Africa’s dismal record of violence against women – on average, a woman is raped every four minutes, and one is killed every eight hours by her partner or relative. The country is still reeling from the murder this month of 17-year-old Anene Booysen, who was gang-raped, mutilated and left for dead on a building site.
“This is not acceptable and our women need to be protected,” said Troy Martens, a spokeswoman for the ruling ANC party’s Women’s League, which held a protest outside the Pretoria court demanding Mr Pistorius be denied bail.
Just days before she was killed, Ms Steenkamp sent tweets offering her support for Ms Booysen and the victims of sexual violence.
Ms Steenkamp’s uncle, Mike Steenkamp, told reporters through tears after the funeral his niece wanted to be an activist for ending abuse against women.
“Unfortunately it has swung right around, but I think that the Lord knows that her statement is more powerful now.”
Ms Steenkamp’s brother Adam told reporters: “There’s a space missing inside all the people that she knew that can’t be filled again. We are going to keep all the positive things that we remember and know about my sister. We will miss her.”