Connect with us

Phuket

Judgement day for Oscar Pistorius

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

PHUKET: After 41 days of tears, anguish and at times gruesome testimony in the Pretoria High Court, Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee who became one of the biggest names in athletics, will learn this week whether he will spend the next 25 years behind bars.

In a fitting reminder of how South Africa has changed in the 20 years since apartheid, the fate of Pistorius, a wealthy white man from privileged roots, rests in the hands of a 66-year-old black woman from Soweto, Judge Thokozile Masipa.

Throughout the on-off six-month trial, Masipa – only the second black woman to rise to the bench in South Africa – has remained calm and impassive, seemingly impervious to the global interest in a case that has drawn comparisons to the 1995 murder trial of American football star OJ Simpson in California.

For Pistorius, the options when Masipa starts delivering her judgement on Thursday, winding up probably on Friday, are stark.

If she sides with the state, which argues that he murdered his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in a fit of rage on Valentine’s Day last year, he faces a mandatory life term – effectively 25 years behind bars before eligible for parole.

A conviction of murder with less explicit intent could still see him incarcerated for up to 20 years.

Alternatively, Masipa could reject any notion of intent but still rule culpable homicide, equivalent to Britain’s manslaughter, for the reckless or negligent killing of Steenkamp, who was shot through a toilet door at Pistorius’s luxury Pretoria home.

Or she could accept Pistorius’s assertion that he acted in ‘putative’ self-defence, firing four shots from a 9mm pistol through the door in the mistaken but genuine belief that an intruder was lurking behind it.

Given the explicit curbs in South African law on the use of lethal force without a direct threat to life, legal analysts say the final option is the least likely.

“It’s entirely possible that he could be convicted of murder but not premeditated murder,” said James Grant, a criminal law professor at Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand, who thinks that at best the court will rule Pistorius was negligent.

“The court is going to ask whether he acted as a reasonable gun-owner, and I think the answer to that is going to be no,” he said.

If convicted, sentencing is likely to be delayed to another hearing in a few weeks, during which time Pistorius can apply for bail. He would also be almost certain to appeal.

SHADOW OF RACE

Since it first broke on the morning of Feb. 14 last year, the case has gripped millions around the world who saw Pistorius as the embodiment of triumph over adversity, a man whose lower legs were amputated as a baby but who reached the semi-finals of the 400 metres at the London Olympics in 2012.

That same year, Time magazine included him in its list of the world’s 100 most influential people, “the definition of global inspiration”.

In sports-mad South Africa, the shooting caused an even bigger impact, the stunning downfall of a sporting hero feted by black and white alike in a society still divided by its racist past.

But as the trial unfolded that sentiment changed.

The prosecution painted a picture of Pistorius as a gun-obsessed hot-head – he faces three other weapons-related charges – who handled a loaded pistol in a packed restaurant and whooped with joy when he blew apart a water-melon with a high-calibre pistol, likening the red mush to brains.

With many glued to the live court broadcast, post-apartheid South Africa was forced to look in the mirror and ask itself some uncomfortable questions, not least about male attitudes to violence and the reality of whites and blacks still inhabiting largely different worlds.

Why, commentators asked, of 34 witnesses called were only two – a security guard and police ballistics expert – black?

Why, Masipa aside, were nearly all the leading protagonists white in a nation where whites are just 10 percent of the population?

Was South Africa really so dangerous that Pistorius and his friends were justified in feeling the need to carry handguns?

And, as backdrop to it all, the universal white suburban fear: how to protect yourself from an intruder – assumed to be black – in the middle of the night, a fear hardwired by years of apartheid propaganda about the ‘swart gevaar’ (black danger).

Some even wondered aloud whether Pistorius would be on trial at all had his victim really been a black male burglar rather than a white, female model.

“This imaginary body of the paranoid imaginings of suburban South Africa has lurked like a bogeyman at the periphery of this story for the past year.

“It is perhaps the most atavistic of white South African fears,” wrote South African novelist Margie Orford at the start of the trial. “The threatening body, nameless and faceless, of an armed and dangerous black intruder.”

— Reuters

 

Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 hours ago

Dole pineapple factory has 34 new Covid-19 cases, 413 total

Coronavirus (Covid-19)8 hours ago

Chinese Sinovac vaccine debuts in Singapore to high demand

Drugs9 hours ago

Drug smuggler caught in Kalasin with 300 kg of marijuana

Phuket Sandbox July 1st

days
hours
minutes
seconds

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Politics10 hours ago

Amendment to reform Constitution rejected by Parliament

Medical12 hours ago

Gender Health Clinic opens in Bangkok for transgender needs

Coronavirus (Covid-19)14 hours ago

30 million baht added to vaccine side effects compensation fund

Coronavirus (Covid-19)15 hours ago

Plan for 16-week gap between AstraZeneca vaccines dropped

Coronavirus (Covid-19)16 hours ago

CCSA: 120 day reopening will proceed with conditions

Tourism17 hours ago

Sandbox latest, CCSA says all regions reopening must reach 70% local vaccination

Coronavirus (Covid-19)20 hours ago

Covid UPDATE Saturday: 3,667 new infections and 32 deaths

Politics20 hours ago

Thamanat elected to role of head ‘fixer’ in Palang Pracharat party

Expats1 day ago

List: China has over 50% of all foreign-owned condos in Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

Government plans 10 million vaccines for July

World1 day ago

Thailand News Today | Vaccine deaths investigation, PM heads to Phuket, BMA extends vendor licences | June 18

Thailand1 day ago

1 million AstraZeneca doses arrive, Anutin says “more” on the way

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending