It seems that when the magistrate in the Pistorius case warned the media to be mindful of the way they reported on the case and those involved, his warning fell on deaf ears. The Rapport and City Press found themselves in hot water when the two publications ran a story which was not entirely factual. One headline said that Oscar had taken a young beauty to see his new Audi R8. According to media reports, the real story is not half as sensational as the headline.
The newspapers published different versions but the gist of their story was that Oscar, flanked by his bodyguards, had taken a woman to a car dealership to show her the expensive car he wanted to buy. The papers painted the picture of a rude and arrogant Pistorius.
The matter was heard by Press Ombudsman Johan Retief. On Saturday, he decided that the Rapport and City Press must issue an apology to Oscar Pistorius for harming his public image. Pistorius is facing murder charges in connection with the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day. Pistorius fired his gun at the bathroom door to kill the “burglar” he thought was hiding in the bathroom. It was not a burglar; it was Reeva Steenkamp. The athlete has also been charged with contravention of the Firearms Control Act for discharging a firearm in two previous incidents.
The woman with whom Oscar was seen at the car dealership is his cousin. Oscar Pistorius was not accompanied by a bodyguard, it was his brother Carl. It turns out that Pistorius first visited the dealership to enquire about buying a cheaper second-hand sedan. The second time he went to the dealership was so that he could help his uncle Arnold with some paperwork for a car. The person who wanted to buy the Audi R8 is actually Oscar’s uncle, Arnold.
The papers went the extra mile when presenting the story to their readers. They electronically enhanced an image to depict Oscar Pistorius standing in front of a luxury Audi R8.
The press ombudsman was thorough in his review of the story. He conceded that even though the reports were not factual, there was nothing to show that the papers had intended to mislead the public. There is proof that a journalist did contact the spokesperson for Pistorius to respond to the allegations but there was a misunderstanding during that communication.
The Pistorius murder trial is scheduled for March 2014.