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.”