The world must not forget Reeva Steenkamp says Nick Boulton, the photographer who worked with the late model for a decade, as he opens up to Emma Barnett about his reactions to the verdict so far
Horrified,” is the first word out of the mouth of South African photographer, Nick Boulton, when he learns that I’ve called to talk about Reeva Steenkamp.
“I am just horrified by it all,” he says, reacting to Judge Masipa’s judgment – in the last few hours she has found Oscar Pistorius not guilty of premeditated murder. He’s been listening to the trial on his radio in South Africa, while working in his studio.
Nick Boulton first began photographing a young Steenkamp in 2003 for Avon. Countless shoots followed over the next decade for the likes of FHM – the magazine which named her twice as one of the world’s sexiest women. He believes that there isn’t another photographer who worked with her more
In the midst of the hysteria surrounding the trial and laser-like focus on Pistorius, Steenkamp’s boyfriend of just three months, Boulton is worried that the world has forgotten the young woman at the heart of this.
“The emphasis has been on him the whole time – his sobbing in court; the way he has reacted to the proceedings. He’s even been seen publicly out in bars since the case began and I know he’s got drunk and gone after another model.
“It’s outrageous he’s been allowed to go out like this. People are very shocked already by the judge’s verdict [so far],” he explains, with a rawness in his voice.
In an eerie echo of OJ Simpson’s court case, dubbed by many as the celebrity trial of last century, the deceased woman at the heart of this story has also been largely overshadowed as the world rushes to focus on her boyfriend’s fate.
However, unlike Nicole Brown Simpson, OJ’s murdered wife, Steenkamp had a public profile and according to Boulton, it was only going to grow as her career was “just starting to take off”.
Weeks before her death Steenkamp, a 29 year-old model and law graduate, described herself as: “Brainy, blonde, bombshell.”
She had been about to appear in a South African celebrity TV reality show called Tropika Island of Treasure and the producers had asked her to sum herself up in three words.
This is a description which fits with Boulton’s recollection of her from their many shoots and trips together.
“Reeva was not like most models. She was not your typical model in any way. She was incredibly humble about her beauty,” he says.
“She was a successful and very smart girl – outside of her modelling. She wasn’t a prima donna. I work with lots of models and Reeva was different. It would get to the point sometimes where I would almost question why she was doing it.
“She was definitely going to go on and do much bigger things – and not just modelling. Her career was in its infancy.”
Indeed, Steenkamp’s old university friend Kerry Smith believes the model was going to use her law degree in years to come. “She always said modelling would not last – you need to have something to come back to,” she told the BBC.
“She was more than just a pretty face, she had a beautiful heart and ambition,” the 35-year-old legal assistant said.
Throughout the trial the ANC Women’s League has supported Steenkamp’s family. The group’s members have also been protesting in support her outside the high court today, in an attempt to make sure the 29-year-old young woman at the heart of this terrible situation will not be overlooked.
But Boulton doesn’t think in the long-term Steenkamp will be forgotten. The last time he saw her was for a job two months before she started dating Pistorius.
Despite South Africa’s frighteningly high crime rate and issues with gun violence, Steenkamp was the first person Boulton knew well to have been fatally hurt.
“The world should remember Reeva Steenkamp as a down-to-earth person who was beautiful inside and out. Her career was just starting to take off – the whole thing is just hideous,” Boulton says.
“I am still so shocked.”
Regardless of what Judge Masipa’s final verdict is, the waiting world should take more than a moment to remember Reeva Steenkamp, a bright and talented woman, who died almost instantly after Mr Pistorius shot her through a toilet door at his house in Pretoria.