The Star Early Edition

Reeva foun­da­tion com­forts her mom


WHILE the par­ents of Reeva Steenkamp are still dev­as­tated by her mur­der, there is some sweet with the bit­ter for them – they are con­tin­u­ing her legacy by keep­ing the Reeva Steenkamp Foun­da­tion go­ing.

In the Supreme Court of Ap­peal on Fri­day, dur­ing the State’s ap­peal against what it termed Os­car Pis­to­rius’s shock­ingly le­nient sen­tence, her stressed mother, June Steenkamp, from time to time sighed deeply as old wounds were re­opened.

June did not want to speak to the me­dia as she took the front row in the pub­lic gallery. All her lawyer, Ta­nia Koen, could say was that they would abide by what­ever the five judges de­cided.

But her face lit up when asked about the foun­da­tion. Reeva’s best friend and cousin, Kim Steenkamp, is head­ing the foun­da­tion, es­tab­lished on Au­gust 19 last year.

Reeva would have turned 33 that day.

Part of the logo of the foun­da­tion is a feather, a sym­bol which rep­re­sents Reeva and June’s close con­nec­tion.

“It’s a feather of love,” June said.

Koen ex­plained that June be­lieved she and Reeva com­mu­ni­cated through feath­ers.

In the early hours of Valen­tine’s Day 2013, when Reeva was shot four times by Pis­to­rius while she was hid­ing be­hind the toi­let door in his then lux­ury home in the east of Pre­to­ria, she wore her sil­ver neck­lace with a feather around her neck.

Koen said Cap­tain Mike van Aard, in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer in the mur­der, later took the neck­lace back to June.

“He asked whether this rep­re­sented a link be­tween Reeva and June.

“That is why it is called a feather of love. It is a con­fir­ma­tion of their love.”

The “feather of love” neck­lace fea­tures promi­nently in the Reeva Steenkamp Foun­da­tion.

Prom­i­nent jew­ellery de­signer Jenni Gault de­signed a replica of it, with a sec­ond smaller feather next to the big­ger feather, re­sem­bling the bond be­tween mother and daugh­ter.

The foun­da­tion, through the funds it gen­er­ates, is­sues a bur­sary each year to a law stu­dent want­ing to spe­cialise in fam­ily law.

Pro­ceeds from these neck­laces, which can be or­dered on­line, will go to­wards the bur­sary.

Kim said the aim of the foun­da­tion was to take a stand against abuse and to help the vic­tims who could not help them­selves.

“It is to em­power and ed­u­cate vic­tims, but more im­por­tantly, the world around us.”

Reeva cam­paigned pas­sion­ately against the abuse of women and chil­dren.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing as a law stu­dent, she used her pub­lic pro­file as a model and TV per­son­al­ity to try to ed­u­cate and mo­ti­vate peo­ple about this prob­lem.

“On the day of her mur­der, she was sched­uled to de­liver a speech at a Joburg school on the is­sue clos­est to her heart.

“The foun­da­tion was es­tab­lished to hon­our her work… It strives to be her voice,” Kim said.

The foun­da­tion will host sev­eral events dur­ing the up­com­ing 16 Days of Ac­tivism for No Vi­o­lence Against Women and Chil­dren cam­paign, which will in­clude the Reeva Re­nais­sance Run­way, where mod­els will hon­our abused women.

There will also be a golf day and a march with other NGOs.

June’s “feather of love”, mean­while, never leaves her neck, and it was clearly a source of com­fort to her in court when many of the tragic events of Reeva’s death were re­lived.

Pis­to­rius will have to spend his 31st birth­day, on Novem­ber 22, in the At­teridgevil­le Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre await­ing word from the court on whether he will have to spend many more birthdays be­hind bars, or if it will not in­ter­fere with the sixyear sen­tence meted out to him by the high court in Pre­to­ria.

 ?? PIC­TURE: ZELDA VENTER ?? June Steenkamp with the neck­lace her daugh­ter Reeva wore the day she was shot dead by Os­car Pis­to­rius.
PIC­TURE: ZELDA VENTER June Steenkamp with the neck­lace her daugh­ter Reeva wore the day she was shot dead by Os­car Pis­to­rius.

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