Exploring the Use of Humour, Vulgarity and Allegory in Social Media Discourses: The Case of Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp


  • Kudzaiishe Peter Vanyoro Wits Centre for Diversity Studies
  • Kudakwashe Paul Vanyoro African Centre for Migration and Society




Social media, power, allegory, humour, vulgarity, Oscar Pistorius, intersectionality, postcolony


This article unpacks notions of humour, vulgarity, and allegory in social media discourses during the trial of Oscar Pistorius by analysing the dynamic interactions between South Africa’s judicial system and multiple discourses on Facebook and Twitter. It explores whether social media, in this instance, provided a platform for citizen-led conversations on the South African judiciary’s legal processes. It proposes that where the “legacy media” were constrained in facilitating case-related public discussions, social media created an alternative sphere for citizens to engage with the South African justice system throughout the trial. The article examines the popular views that were posted on Facebook and Twitter during the trial. Using a Foucauldian approach and Achille Mbembe’s interpretation of the postcolony, the article argues that the trial of Oscar Pistorius can be used as a lens to examine the humorous, vulgar and allegoric views of South Africans towards the judicial system in the post-apartheid era. This is more so in a context where intersectional contestations of class, race, and gender exist within popular socio-political discourses of “rich white men’s justice” versus “poor black men’s justice.”

Author Biographies

Kudzaiishe Peter Vanyoro, Wits Centre for Diversity Studies

Kudzai Vanyoro is an MA Candidate and Marketing and Communications Liaison at WiCDS. He holds an Honors in Media and Society Studies from the Midlands State University in Zimbabwe. He also holds an Internationals Human Rights Exchange (IHRE) and a Live Mag ZA content creators' certificate. His research interests are new media, cultural studies and queer representations. His MA research is titled ‘Analysing Representations of Queerness in South African New Media Spaces: A Case Study of QueerLife’s ‘4Men’ and ‘4Women’s’ Website

Kudakwashe Paul Vanyoro, African Centre for Migration and Society

Kuda is a Research Communications Officer and Doctoral Researcher at ACMS. Kuda joined ACMS in February 2014 where he was appointed Research, Communications and Outreach Intern. Kuda has participated and presented at various international conferences and three years iteration of the Global Forum on Migration and Development. He holds an MA in Migration and; Displacement (Cum laude) from Wits University. His Doctoral thesis will explore how cross-border migrants experience quotidian waiting events at the border and what various banal modalities of waiting say about belonging, subjectification and governmentality. He has previously published on representation and migration. His recent publication is on ‘Repoliticizing international migration narratives? Critical reflections on the Civil Society Days of the Global Forum on Migration and Development’ (2018).



How to Cite

Vanyoro, Kudzaiishe Peter, and Kudakwashe Paul Vanyoro. 2019. “Exploring the Use of Humour, Vulgarity and Allegory in Social Media Discourses: The Case of Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp”. Africanus: Journal of Development Studies 49 (1):22 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2663-6522/5787.



Received 2019-02-09
Accepted 2019-06-26
Published 2019-08-08