The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
Amid the global coverage around the Oscar Pistorius trial, and the athlete’s dramatic sobbing and repeated gagging in court, it is easy to lose sight of the real victim in this saga: Reeva Steenkamp. South African freelance journalist Nick van der Leek has made it his business to find out much more about the model shot dead by Pistorius in his home on Valentine’s Day. Nick has written a book about her, Reeva in her own Words. Much of the material comes directly from Reeva’s postings in the social media. – JC
By Nick van der Leek*
A GLIMPSE INTO REEVA’S LIFE 2007-2008
Part 1: Reeva’s Struggle – learning to play the game
Reeva joins Facebook on June 8, 2007. Two years have passed since getting her law degree at the University of Port Elizabeth. The timeline of Reeva’s Facebook profile paints an intimate portrait of a hard working, sensitive, courageous and fun loving person who is taking the bull by the horns and trying to make it in the tough, and often shallow, high stakes fashion industry. We find her good humoured and living life to the full, giving her all to make a success of herself.
The timeline of Reeva’s Facebook page starts off slowly, with a single entry for the month on June 8:
So…..I have finally arrived. I am, however, confused by a few things here in Facebook Land. The term poke? I mean, really. Can someone elaborate? I poked someone a few moments ago, but nothing happened. Odd. I also feel as tho I now need to scrub myself in HOT water and some form of disinfectant. I feel somewhat violated.
A few days after Reeva’s first and only status update in June, Garth Tavares leaves this message:
nice to see you on Facebook my highschool sweetheart. you are still by far the greatest love of my life. glad you’re well.
During July of 2007 Reeva reveals a busy social schedule surrounding life in Johannesburg, eventually working regular nightshifts as a live roaming presenter for FashionTV in South Africa. In July Reeva meets Warren Lahoud after being ‘bounced’ for wearing a cap in a nightclub. Lahoud runs after Reeva and knocks on her car window, saying to her that instead of going home Reeva (and her friend) should join him and his friends. Reeva’s teasing on her Facebook wall might be a reference to Lahoud.
July 31, 2007
keeping a secret…
July 31, 2007
excited to see the King again xxxx.
But in August, whilst auditioning for a spot on Top Billing, and signing up with ice Models, Reeva hints at some financial difficulties in her early days in Johannesburg. She also reveals a protracted struggle to find the right man, losing her phone, the trials and tribulations of the nightclubbing scene, and her innermost feelings of conflict and frustration – did she make the right choice to pursue modelling? A close friend passes away in the same month and Reeva is missing her parents.
After dropping a few hints, Reeva first mentions Warren on Facebook on October 11, 2007, nearly 4 months after their first meeting.
October 11, 2007
at home doing work…it’s nice having Warren here to keep me company…
After visiting her folks in Port Elizabeth at the end of 2007, Reeva writes that she:
December 29, 2007
knows she’s in PE cos her dad is sporting crocs, people drive at 40km/h and everyone is still arguing about the same stuff from 10 months ago!
Reeva also admits to “struggling to shrug off a thing of the past. Love is a funny thing.” – is this an allusion to the abusive relationship she’d left behind in PE?
The first two months of 2008 are another tumultuous chapter for Reeva. She loses her grandfather, her ‘step mom’ Dine leaves for America, and Reeva admits to feeling ‘exhausted’ after a gruelling 5 hour shoot, ‘emotional’, and upset at the ‘bitchiness’ of ‘some girls’ on Facebook.
After travelling to Cape Town for her grandfather’s funeral, Reeva ponders returning ‘home’ to Cape Town, the city where she was born. (She left Cape Town with her parents to move to PE at the age of 7). Reeva’s exhaustion is palpable when she says she needs ‘a holiday on an island far away and is starting to long for the good old days’.
At the same time Reeva reveals her feelings for Warren, saying she misses him and finally declares herself to be dating on the 11th of February. The pattern and pace of Reeva’s confession about an intimate relationship make an interesting contrast for her next (and what will be last) serious relationship with a man. Echoing the enthusiasm on the eve of a Valentine’s Day 5 years later, Reeva gushes: [I am] sooooooo excited for later.
But 2008 proves to be a year Reeva would prefer to forget. On April 7 Reeva posts:
‘[I stand] corrected. You do not get over the past. The past decides when to let go of you.’
On May 8, 2008, Reeva changes her relationship status on Facebook to ‘In a relationship’ although Warren and Reeva have been an item since January.
Reeva, pushing herself hard, is often ill, a sign of a young woman burning the candle at both ends and shouldering the heavy stresses of a shallow industry. Although Reeva seldom mentions the gossiping and cat-fighting it appears to be constant backdrop to her life as a model.
@alechogg Reading this is so sad, what an awful waste of life, youth, hopefulness & opportunity. Her death was a pointless waste of life!
— EyesWideOpen (@indigovenice) June 11, 2014
June 13, 2008
thinks it’s adorable how chicks have got so much time to talk about me.
By August she is planning to move again: ‘looking for a place in Bedfordview’, ‘smiling for the major dollar sign’, broke, but happy with her beau. In late September the two jet off to New York City for a few days. She declares herself ‘blessed to have Warren in her life …’ but on November 12 reveals the toll her life is taking on her:
‘…climbing into bed with her twisted ankle, sore throat and a bunch of movies…’
Ex-FHM editor Hagen Engler describes meeting Reeva in 2008 and her aspirations to make the FHM calendar:
[When] our paths [cross] again in the casting room [in 2008, Reeva is] running a fresh produce business with her then-boyfriend [Warren]. [We aren’t] able to cast her… though her personality [sparkles] like the night sky [Reeva is] carrying a bit of extra weight. Still sexy, though. [Reeva is] a contender, but we didn’t choose her for that particular calendar.
In October, Reeva references a criminal incident on Facebook.
October 8, 2008
thinks that everyone in PE should be aware of the thieves running rampage on our homes. Crack the shit out of them if you catch them, they’re cowards.
Read the rest of Reeva in her own Words, Nick van der Leek’s narrative of Reeva Steenkamp, on Amazon Kindle.
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