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A year on and PE silently mourns

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iol nws jan 25 pn reev25

REUTERS

Valentine's Day marks a year since Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead by her world famous boyfriend, paralympic Oscar Pistorius.

Cape Town - Hype surrounding the Oscar Pistorius murder trial is mounting globally as the first anniversary of Reeva Steenkamp’s death looms, but in her parents’ home town of Port Elizabeth there is little evidence of the matter.

When residents talk about Pistorius, or his girlfriend, Steenkamp, 29, whom he gunned down in his Pretoria home on Valentine’s Day last year, they do so in hushed tones.

Some simply clam up.

There is no apparent memorial for Steenkamp and no obvious sign that she once lived in the town.

At a pub about 20 minutes outside the centre of Port Elizabeth and which her parents, Barry and June Steenkamp, now run, it’s business as usual.

This week the Steenkamps asked the media and public to respect their privacy.

In a statement, they said June Steenkamp would attend Pistorius’s trial next month.

It resulted in a flurry of tweets and news articles appearing in publications locally and around the world, including in the US and UK.

On Wednesday an article on the Pistorius and Steenkamp matter was published at the bottom of the front page of the Eastern Cape newspaper The Herald.

Aside from referring to the statement the Steenkamps had issued, it said journalists and camera crews had been spotted outside the couple’s pub.

Despite the focus on the pub, The Barking Spider, situated off the road behind a small hotel in Greenbushes, it did not appear as if anything unusual had happened.

When a Cape Times team drove by the pub on Tuesday, it was open and there were a few cars parked outside.

The Steenkamp family initially lived in Cape Town and moved to Port Elizabeth when Steenkamp was a child. She later went to Joburg to pursue a career in modelling.

This week the Cape Times team visited several places in Port Elizabeth linked to Steen-kamp, including the neighbour-hood and home outside the city centre that her parents had previously lived in and the chapel where her funeral was held last year. A worker at the chapel said there was virtually no trace that the funeral had happened there.

“There’s nothing. I kept a (funeral) programme to remember her. But that just disappeared,” he said.

The worker said there was no plaque or anything in memory of Steenkamp in the grounds. “Her ashes are with her parents,” he said.

They had scattered her ashes on Summerstrand Beach last year.

At the home her parents had once stayed at in Seaview – before moving out reportedly because of the media hype around them – it appeared as if no one was there. Few people were seen around the misty seaside neighbourhood.

At a nearby pub, a bartender said she had never seen the model in Seaview.

She said she had spotted June Steenkamp a few times, but it seemed as if the family had kept to themselves.

The bartender said what some residents and friends of Steenkamp’s family did know about them, they tried to keep away from the press.

“We don’t kiss and tell,” she said.

An employee at Looks International, a modelling management and promotions agency that had previously worked with Steenkamp, said the company would not comment on the matter, nor release any photographs of Steenkamp.

The Cape Times sent a query to St Dominic’s Priory, the school Steenkamp had attended in Port Elizabeth, but no response had been received by deadline.

caryn.dolley@inl.co.za

Cape Times


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