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BBC apologises for not mentioning Reeva Steenkamp in Oscar Pistorius documentary trailer

George Martin
·3-min read
ALTERNATIVE CROP A picture taken on January 26, 2013 shows Olympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius posing next to his girlfriend  Reeva Steenkamp at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg. South Africa's Olympic sprinter Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorius was taken into police custody on February 14, 2013, after allegedly shooting dead his model girlfriend having mistaken her for an intruder at his upscale home. AFP PHOTO / WALDO SWIEGERS        (Photo credit should read WALDO SWIEGERS/AFP via Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius and his then-girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in January 2013. (Getty)

The BBC has been forced to apologise after a trailer for its new Oscar Pistorius documentary failed to directly mention his murdered girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius, a double amputee who competed for South Africa in both the Olympics and Paralympics, was jailed for murdering Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria in the early hours of Valentine's Day in 2013.

A new BBC documentary, The Trials Of Oscar Pistorius, is set to be released next month and will look at the lengthy trial and the murder itself.

However, when the trailer for the four-part series was released on Tuesday, online commentators were outraged that it failed to mention Steenkamp by name.

South African Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius (C) speaks to a man at the High Court in Pretoria, on July 6, 2016 after being sentenced to six years in jail for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp three years ago. Pistorius was freed from prison in the South African capital Pretoria last October after serving one year of a five-year term for culpable homicide -- the equivalent of manslaughter. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / MARCO LONGARI (Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA)
Pistorius in court in 2016. (Getty)

Historian Dr Fern Riddell said: “No one says Reeva Steenkamp’s name in this trailer, or speaks for her.

“In seven years with all that’s supposedly changed about editorial practice and how we talk about these stories, she’s just back to being the unnamed girlfriend.”

Domestic abuse campaigner David Challen tweeted: “Rightly so @bbcpress recognise failing to acknowledge Reeva Steenkamp in a promo about her murder was a massive error.

“However, a film centred on the killers’ experiences rather than victims’ is still abhorrent. We need better standards of reporting fatal domestic abuse now.”

Read more: Oscar Pistorius documentary to air on the BBC

Tory MP Jackie Doyle-Price tweeted: “Reeva Steenkamp was a human being whose life was snuffed our. She should not be forgotten or erased. Bad call BBC. #rememberreeva”

The BBC later apologised in a statement posted on its social media accounts, adding that the trailer would be “replaced by something more representative of the series”.

"We regret that the original trail did not refer to Reeva Steenkamp directly,” the BBC statement read.

"We are aware of the upset it has caused, which was never the intention. We have removed the trail and it will be replaced by something more representative of the series, which examines in detail a number of complex issues connected with her murder."

Watch: Pistorius jail term extended by court in 2017

The Trials Of Oscar Pistorius will be available on BBC iPlayer next month before airing on BBC Two at a later date.

The series features interviews with people close to Pistorius and looks back on his journey to becoming an international athletics star before his arrest.

Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison in 2015 after a South African judge found the athlete guilty of culpable homicide, but he was released and put under house arrest just a year later.

The original verdict was later changed to murder by an appeals court that handed him a new six-year sentence and sent him back to jail.

In November 2017, Pistorius’s sentence was more than doubled to 15 years, minus time already served.