Media circus for white murder trials only | This is Africa

Politics and Society

Media circus for white murder trials only

With so much media attention on the Oscar Pistorius case, you’d be forgiven for thinking the killing of women by their partners is a rare occurrence in South Africa. It’s not. Are murder victims only newsworthy if they’re white or famous?



Am I the only guy in this country who is fed up with black agony, pain and suffering being reduced to a side show?

Black people here are becoming increasingly invisible; where the hell is the outrage?

The trial of the State vs Oscar Pistorius gets all the media attention while a similar murder trial, just metres away, is largely ignored. We should be screaming bloody prejudice, unequal treatment and double standards.

In the one hardly anyone is paying attention to, 18-year-old Zanele Khumalo, a model, was strangled and raped at her Garsfontein parent’s home by her 28-year old boyfriend, Thato Kutumela.


The vicious and cold-blooded attack happened in April 2011. At present the plaintiff is in court arguing for mitigation of sentence after being found guilty last year.

Thato Kutumela was found guilty of the rape and murder of his model girlfriend, Zanele Khumalo. His mitigation-of-sentence is being heard a few metres from the Oscar Pistorius case. (Picture: Masi Losi)

So here we have another case of a young, attractive, beautiful model murdered by her lover and partner. But because the couple is black and not famous, it is overlooked and dismissed as just one of those things that happen in South Africa. Crimes committed against black people do not grab media headlines in this country except in the case of false celebrities.

The South African Institute of Race Relations research says more than 2,500 women are murdered each year. Who are they? Where do they come from? And why is their story not being told? Are they mostly black?

Instead, we have got the media spotlight taking our time and resources to Oscar’s Trial with prominent and expensive lawyers fighting it out in court. Why does this court case deserve more attention than the similar one next door? It is time that we asked tough questions of ourselves in this country, and demand equality of treatment.

The family of murdered Zanele Khumalo outside Pretoria High Court where the Pistorius trial is currently underway – her mother, Busi, sister, Lindelwa, and father, Temba Khumalo. (Photo: Etienne Creux)

Nobody cares for what happens to black people in this country. You might think I am making a racist statement here, that I don’t like white people. I must make it clear that that is not the case. But someone has got to speak up. This is structural racism! I don’t think this country is living up to its ideals of justice and equality for all. Everyone has a right to be respected and treated with dignity.

We seem to have chosen to ignore the agony, pain and suffering of the Khumalo family for no other reason than that they are black. We can respond to this charge by giving all sorts of reason, including the fact that Oscar is an international sports icon and Reeva is …er, a beautiful and attractive white model, but that is not what justice for all means.

Oscar Pistorius escorted into court in Pretoria. There’s a huge amount of media and public interest in Oscar’s case, but who’s paying any attention to the Thato Kutumela trial? (Photo: EPA)

We can be proud of our justice system. It works, albeit slowly. However, we cannot call ourselves a just and equal society when what happens in those courts projects inequality and injustice in how different types of people are treated.

I tell everyone who cares to listen that this country does not have a single civil society organisation whose single-minded purpose and agenda is to fight and oppose racism. Racism is not going to disappear by itself in this society. It demands activism and organisation. You don’t have to tell me about the Human Rights Commission. That is a statutory body created by the State just like the Public Protector. I am talking about a grassroots-based organisation, with highly principled ordinary folks, that is committed to fighting racism in this country.


We may not agree on how I see these two cases but we have to put our views out there to debate them. If you do not agree with me, don’t jump into calling me a black racist. We have to demand answers about the structural racism that is still pervasive in our country. Mental liberation demands that free speech will not be silenced. Where I come from I was taught that I must tell my truth even if people do not agree with me.

Dear Mrs Khumalo, I’m sorry but your daughter is not Reeva! There, I said it.

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