As Oscar Pistorius returns to the courtroom for what is hopefully the final sentencing in the case of his murder of Reeva Steenkamp, the father of the deceased, Barry Steenkamp, gave a victim’s statement stating that he thinks the Olympic gold medal winner should “pay” for what he did to his daughter. This was in response to the defence’s plea that Pistorius needs care and not imprisonment, that the criminal is a depressed, broken man who does not deserve to be put in prison.
I have heard and read a lot about forgiveness. The world is full of posts, sermons and memes that teach us about this noble act. That tell us that the inability to forgive leads to bitterness and diminishes one’s well-being. Parents and lovers of murder victims who state that they’ve learnt to forgive are usually lauded and held in high esteem – as though that is the true crossing over to a higher plane; that they have somehow transcended human feelings and unlocked the key to what life is truly about.
Today though, my heart, my soul, my approval and my applause went out to the true victims of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp – her parents June and Barry Steenkamp – who have been dragged from coutroom to coutroom, made to sit across from their daughter’s killer while he put on a face of one hard done by and undergoing immense depression. Ugh.
Today, a 73 year old man, who probably has not had a chance to properly mourn the murder of his daughter at the hands of one who purported to love her, sat in front of a court and told them his side of the story, his pain, his grief.
His hands shaking and voice trembling, Mr Steenkamp revealed he has suffered a stroke since his daughter’s passing and even pushed needles into his body to try and feel the pain that she went through.
He did say that he and his wife, June, had forgiven Pistorius because of their Christian faith, but stated: “Oscar has to pay for what he did. He has to pay for it…
“That is up to the court. And we will go by the decision that the court hands down to Oscar. But he has to pay for his crime.”
He added: “Every day of my life, morning, noon, night; I think about her all the time.
“People say it takes two to three years before you start feeling a little bit better about the whole thing. I don’t wish that on any human being. Finding out what happened devastated us. I ended up having a stroke.”
Look, forgiveness is a gift. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you’re going to say it is a gift that the forgiver bestows upon themselves, but I wouldn’t have had a problem if you hadn’t have messed up. If my saying “I forgive you” does not take the pain away and doesn’t make me feel better, then guess what? In my books, you don’t get to feel better either.
If Barry and June Steenkamp can ever find solace in this lifetime again, then I wish that for them more than anything in the world. If they can ever sleep through a night or not have a day when the image of their beautiful daughter does not wreak havoc in their minds, then this would be, by far, the best possible outcome. But if they feel nothing but contempt for a man who robbed them so heartlessly, then that is allowed too.
Here is how I feel about forgiveness, especially of this magnitude: I want you to draw your last breath knowing that you and I? We ain’t cool. We ain’t never gonna be cool. If I bump into you in the afterlife, stay far away from me there too. I want you to know that I do not give you the honour, the privilege or the luxury of my forgiveness. I want you to not feel a moment’s rest. If you’re torn apart inside, if you are conflicted and you are in pain, if you seek restitution, long may your angst follow you. And maybe in time, the pain might have eased if you had hurt only me, but you went one further – you hurt mine. So, you and I? We will never be cool.
Rest in peace, Reeva.
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