Son brought shame to the Harper family


FRIDAY’S Herald front page headline, “Hijack: Bianca’s brother arrested”, has opened up a hornet’s nest of anger and outrage against this newspaper.

The gist of the complaints related not to the facts of the story, but to the linking of Charlie Harper, the man who found himself arrested as a suspected hijacker, to his recently deceased sister, Bianca, a former Miss PE, who was a much loved and respected pharmacist and philanthropist.

There is not a word in the story that sullies Bianca’s reputation or shows any disrespect to her name or legacy.

The story, in fact, shows great sympathy to the parents of Bianca and Charlie, as they have had to in a space of just three months deal with the tragic death of their daughter in an accident and now their son being wounded in a shootout with police and arrested as a suspected hijacker.

Charlie has subsequently been released by police, but there are still many unanswered questions as to exactly what he was doing in a car that was hijacked at gunpoint from 19-year-old NMMU student Lauren Shovlin.

The anger which has been vented on Facebook is epitomised by this post by Bianca’s friend, Marvin L Holmes. ” I am absolutely disgusted in The Herald!! How dare you!! After all she’s done for you this is how you honour her!!”

We respect that reactions like this are indicative of the deep loss and grief over Bianca’s death. With equal due respect we do need to point out as another Facebook commentator, Zodwa Dube, did: “The Herald unfortunately has the responsibility to report this. This guy who was caught hijacking should have thought about what this would do to his famous sister’s name.”

If there has been any shame brought to the Harper family during their time of grief, it has been brought to them by their son Charlie.

This is something his father, Denzyl Harper, candidly admitted in the story we published when he said: “We have tried everything to try and rein him in. His behaviour is taking a toll on us, especially his mother.”

Our hearts do go out to the Harper parents during this time of grief and anguish.

These words by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who himself has had his name dragged into newspaper headlines due to his son Trevor’s arrest for not paying child maintenance among other misdemeanours, will be of some comfort.

“We know our children are so much more than the sum of everything they have done wrong. Their stories are more than rehearsals of their repeated need for forgiveness. We know that even the things they did wrong were opportunities for us to teach them to be citizens of the world. We have been able to forgive them because we have known their humanity. We have seen the good in them.”

6 thoughts on “Son brought shame to the Harper family

  • March 3, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Typical Port Elizabeth! They are more bothered about the criminal’s family than the poor student from Bloemfontein who had a gun pointed at her and ended up with bullet holes in her car! If you don’t do crime you won’t have your name dragged up in the newspapers! Hard luck! Hard cheese! No one forced the 30 year old man to hijacking!

  • March 3, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    The Media is there to report on, and inform the readers of news events – how tragic, happy, sad or funny it may be – its just unfortunate that the Hijacker is linked to a well-know personality in PE. Lets face the truth, by mentioning Bianca’s name in the report, it created a larger readership – making more people aware of crime, than what it would have been, if it was the brother of any other citizen who was not in the spotlight. I feel sorry for the family, that their son had put them in the “spotlight” with his criminal activities, instead of rather a positive outcome.

  • March 2, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    I agree with Kelly. The incident had absolutely nothing to do with Bianca. And I loath The Herald’s habit of referring to people by their surname in articles, particularly women, every single day of the year. Yet on this rare occasion, a first name was good enough for the headlines.

  • March 2, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Newspapers are there to report, whether people like the story or not. Newspapers cannot be held responsible for the way readers react to their articles. If a newspaper is legally entitled to mention the names, then that should be done, if not, then they shouldn’t.

    But for people to expect newspapers to hold back on stories because of insensitivity, or it might be misconstrued or whatever……seriously??? However if the family have not been notified of the death of such person, then agreed, family should be notified first.

    If its news, then report the facts and names! If family/friends get offended, tough. However, if the reporting is inaccurate, that is a totally different story altogether.

    Newspapers have an obligation to the community… facts as and when they happen! Thats exactly what The Herald did.

  • March 2, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    The Herald did NOTHING wrong in this story! Sometimes the truth is unpleasant and sometimes the reader blames the bearer of the news as if it was their fault! Jacob Zuma and his party are big culprits in that regard! The job of a newspaper is to tell the public what happened whether it is bad or unpleasant news! Don’t blame the bearer of bad news! ! ! !

  • March 2, 2015 at 11:16 am

    The crime has nothing to do with Bianca and the fact that her name was used in the headline on the front page is sensationalism. I feel that the feelings of family, who is already going through a lot, were not considered. Never before, in any article, were the names of the relatives mentioned.


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