Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Following the Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial

Last year, Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius was accused of  murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.  The trial is going on right now in South Africa.

What do you need to know about South Africa, to be able to follow this trial?  Well, other than the fact that South Africa is mostly a black country with a white minority, it is recovering from a long period of time where the whites took charge and violently suppressed the black people.  This was called "Apartheid".

Today in South Africa, blacks are allowed to vote, and hold jobs that were previously reserved for whites (like President of the country, policeman, judge etc.)  But the black people are still mostly poor, and now South Africa has one of the highest crime rates in the world, an overwhelmed police force and justice system, and also one of the highest crime rates of men against their women.  Yet still, it functions as a country and tourists still visit there.

Interesting, also that the judge in Oscar's case is black and a woman.  Also, that Oscar has both legs amputated at the knee and runs competitively on springs known as blades.  He fought a long battle to be allowed to run in the real Olympics, and won his case.  But did not win a gold medal.

Now back to the trial. Oscars's version of events:  at 3:00AM one morning in Oscar's house, Oscar heard a sound in the bathroom.  Thinking it was a burglar, Oscar grabbed his gun from under the pillow and fired four shots through the bathroom door.  He was then very distressed to find out that his girlfriend, Reeva, was not in bed.  He then broke down the locked bathroom door with a cricket bat, and saw her dead inside the  toilet.

Police Version: Oscar was trying to murder his girlfriend, and Oscar was trying to make it look like he  didn't know she was in there so that he would not have to go to jail for murder.  Also, Reeva was screaming in pain and fear as two of the first three bullets hit her, and the final bullet through the brain finished her off.  Neighbours heard the screaming and gunshots, which Oscar's lawyer insists was Oscar screaming like a woman, and the sound of the cricket bat smashing the door open.  The neighbours don't agree.

My version: Both sides seem a bit extreme.  For one thing, even if Oscar had killed an actual intruder (most likely a black man) instead of his white TV star girlfriend, he would still go to jail for 10 years according to South African law, for killing someone without a self-defence argument.  On the other hand, Oscar's case is also very weak in that he seems to be a quick-tempered hothead who loves guns and the shooting thereof without any concern for other people's safety.  He is also very wealthy, and I think (or am guessing) he felt like the law was mostly for other people.  He also throws up a lot when he hears about the damage his "special" bullets did to his girlfriend.

Most recently, in this trial, Oscar and Reeva's private phone texts have been introduced as evidence.  Reeva once sent a message to Oscar saying he "scared" her sometimes.  Oscar's tenacious lawyer argues that out of the thousand or so text messages,  99% were loving and kind.

My question: Is it also a good defence to argue that 99% of the time that Reeva went to the bathroom, that Oscar did not kill her?

Picture: From Oscar's twitter account, apparently of Oscar and Reeva at a party.
I found it on this page.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, crikey ... the lives of the 'rich and famous' :-(

    If this sad episode in South Africa involved 'regular' individuals, rather than celebrities, it would go un-noted. The cult of celebrity is epidemic.

    We now face the prospect of a generation which, 'believes that education and hard work are not important in achieving success, that fame and celebrity are worthwhile life objectives.

    We face an epidemic of narcissism.