UK novelty online store Joker’s Masquerade has turned the murder of Reeva Steenkamp by Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius into a Halloween costume, causing outrage and charges of insensitivity in the process.
While the costume is billed as a “stag costume” for the UK equivalent of a bachelor’s party in which the groom-to-be and his friends often dress up, it is likely that the attention it’s receiving is because Halloween, the popular holiday on which people dress up often as something “scary”, took place on Wednesday – possibly stimulating interest in the costume.
The costume can be purchased online for around R470.
The product’s online description reads: “Cause lots of controversy at your next party with our Adult Blade Runner Gunner Stag Costume. This eye-catching, head-turning costume idea is ideal for any event, whether it be Halloween or just a shindig at a friend’s.
“The costume includes black and silver boot covers that come up to just under the knee, giving the impression that you have metal running blades instead of legs, just like that infamous Paralympic runner!
The website also makes recommendations about accessories to go with the outfit, namely a “tommy gun” accessory and a “leopardmatic strip gun” accessory.
Outrage is building over the company’s willingness to make light of a serious crime involving violence towards women in a bid to sell its novelty items.
The Reeva Steenkamp Foundation, which “strives to be Reeva’s voice and continue her work in educating and empowering victims of violence and abuse”, has called the costume “insensitive and inappropriate for various reasons”, according to TimesSelect.
Siyabulela Monakali, a spokesperson for NGO Ilitha Labantu, which focuses in particular on “violence against women and children and supporting those affected by it”, finds the outfit similarly problematic, saying it “glorifies the perpetrator” and makes light of and minimises a serious crime.