Why today is as much about Reeva Steenkamp as Oscar Pistorius

Dina Rickman@dinarickman
Thursday 11 September 2014 11:30

This morning the world is focusing on Oscar Pistorius and the outcome of his murder trial. But at stake is justice for Reeva Steenkamp, the woman he shot dead in the early hours of Valentine's Day 2013.

The day before she was killed, Ms Steenkamp, 29, posted her support for a campaign urging South Africans to wear black in honour of women raped and killed in the country by their partners.

In the week before her death, she publicly mourned the death of Anene Booysen, a 17-year-old who was gang raped and disembowelled.

And the day after she died, she was scheduled to deliver a speech about domestic abuse - including discussing an abusive relationship she had been in before moving to Johannesburg - to a group of teenage girls.

As Vanity Fair reported in 2013: "It’s ironic that Reeva Steenkamp lost her life at the hands of a man with a gun. She and her mother were passionate, longtime advocates for women suffering from violence and abuse."

Born in Cape Town in 1983, Ms Steenkamp's childhood ambition was to be a lawyer and despite graduating in 2005 at the top of her class at law school, an serious accident when she was studying convinced her not to practise law.

Instead, she pursued modelling, moving to Johannesburg. But her friend Kerry Smith told the BBC, she believed that career would not last and the two planned to start a law firm to help abused women.

"She wanted to save everyone, wanted to protect everyone," Ms Smith said.

Speaking last year, her mother June said Reeva "loved like no one else could love".

She had so much of herself to give and now all of it is gone. Just like that, she is gone ... in the blink of an eye and a single breath, the most beautiful person who ever lived is no longer here

  • June Steenkamp

But her family and friends have insisted her life should not be overshadowed by tragedy, with one telling Hello magazine:

She was not a pretty face or someone's girlfriend, she was Reeva Steenkamp. She was never in someone's shadow. She was her own person. That should not be forgotten not by anyone, not for anything.

Ms Steenkamp is survived by her parents Barry and June and older siblings Adam and Simone.

More: Thokozile Masipa: The woman with Pistorius's fate in her hands