Johannesburg - “Thou shalt not kill.” This was the repeated backlash Oscar Pistorius endured over social media on Sunday night as he broke his online silence by taking to Twitter for the first time in five months.
Social media conversations about the athlete rocketed on Sunday after he tweeted three pictures – laced with religious and motivational messages – between 6.30 and 7.30pm.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. Psalm 34:18” read the first image that he uploaded yesterday, to which several people fired back with their own religious messages.
“Sure there’s something in there about thou shalt not kill too – didn’t realise I still followed u #hero2zero #unfollow,” tweeted Jo @JS_thatsme.
In a space of just 12 hours after he tweeted the pictures, the number of messages directed at his official account doubled compared to all messages sent to him over the past four weeks.
Paul Millard (@FarehamHammer) tweeted: “Just to jog your memory. One of the ten commandments are ‘Thou shalt not kill’, No murderer your PR spin is pointless.”
Also tweeting the “Thou shalt not kill” scripture was Phil (@Phillip_Thomas), who asked: “#OscarPistorius says ‘My Religion is Very Important To Me’ Which part of ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ didn’t you understand.”
Gwen Britz (@GwenBritz) tweeted: “#OscarPistorius he should have started with ‘Thou shall not kill’.”
However, others used Bible passages to offer their support.
“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. – Psalm 34:5 #OscarPistorius,” tweeted Katerina Nelson @ekatnelson.
The anger directed at him in social media in the wake of these messages did not deter Pistorius as he tweeted a fourth message at 8am on Monday.
“Lord, today I ask that you bathe those who live in pain in the river of your healing. Amen.”
Pistorius also tweeted a collage of his photos on Sunday night – which appear to have been taken from his charity work with children – with a message in the middle of the picture.
It read: “You have the ability to make a difference in someone’s life. Sometimes it’s the simple things you say or do that can make someone feel better or inspire them.”
The final picture on Sunday night was a photograph of a passage from the 1946 memoirs of Nazi concentration camp survivor, Victor Frankl.”I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved,” is a line from this passage. This drew even more ire on Twitter.
“Oh yes, wow, you’re so inspiring we’ll let you off the hook 4 killing Reeva in cold blood! I DON’T THINK SO! #OscarPistorius,” tweeted Liesl Schoonraad (@LieslSchoonraad).
Others, however, said he was entitled to tweet.
“isn’t that we are all given the right to express Ourselves? Accused murderer 0r n0t? in #RSA we are all0wed t0... #OscarPistorius,” wrote Phil Serumula (@Phil_Vandal_S).
Pistorius’s tweet on Monday morning was re-tweeted 68 times and “favoured” 108 times.
Sunday’s tweets had been retweeted 841 times and made a favourite 1 445 times.
Before Sunday, Pistorius had not used his official account since February 14, a year after he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
On that occasion he uploaded a link to his website under a message which said, “A few words from my heart”. This link took users to an official statement on his website in which he said the suffering endured by Steenkamp’s family “consumes (him) with sorrow”.
As of this morning, over 2 400 tweets had been directed at Oscar’s official account since he tweeted, according to social media analytics site Topsy. This is the almost the same amount of messages that were directed at him over the past four weeks.
It is likely that this number is actually higher because Topsy only measures “influential conversations”.
Pistorius’s spokeswoman Anneliese Burgress could not be reached for comment on Monday morning.