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.