PRETORIA: No sooner had the verdict by Judge Thokozile Masipa on Oscar Pistorius murder trial was known, than the court of public opinion had pronounced the athlete guilty as charged.
Outside the Pretoria High Court, three hours before judgement was read out, ordinary South Africans whom the Sunday Standard spoke to, expressed their desire to see the Judge pronounce a guilty verdict on the athlete referred to as Blade runner, whose physical disability could not deter him from competing with able bodied athletes on the world stage during his short but illustrious career as an international athlete.
The stage was set at Madiba Street at which the Pretoria High Court is situated where the international electronic media ruled the roost as they beamed to millions of viewers around the world, live feeds of the sentencing of an athlete who against all odds basked in the glory of fame ÔÇô the very reason why his trial attracted such intense local and international media coverage.
By 06:40 am, three school going girl students awaiting a bus in front of the Pretoria High Court said they believed Pistorius killed his girlfriend of three months – law graduate Reeva Steenkamp aged 29 intentionally on Valentines Day of 2013.
A self proclaimed car guard in the proximity of Church Square, Puseletso Nkwadi (27), lamented that justice in South Africa is never blindly applied when it gets to celebrities and powerful political figures.
“I think they will send him to jail just to play to the media gallery only to release him soon afterwards on some medical parole excuse. We saw that during Jackie Selibe [disgraced former Police Commissioner] trial,” said Nkwadi.
A stone’s throw away from him was a security woman (34) who did not wish to be named who nevertheless was on record concurred saying Pistorius’ disability should not in anyway influence the judge to lessen the crime he is alleged to have committed. “He is guilty of murder. The Court should punish him looking at the crime he has committed not his personality or fame,” she said.
Throughout the 42-day trial of the amputee athlete, who has on several occasions broke down in court during his trial, the South Africa’s ruling African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) has always been present to lend support to Steenkamp’s family.
“Today is almost the final day of this marathon case. We believe as the ANC Women’s League that justice must be served. Women of South Africa must be able to find that the current justice system is on their side and serve as a deterrent to would be perpetrators,” said Faith Mazibuko of the ANC Women’s By the main entrance of the courtroom where the sentence was to be delivered man Indian woman, who said she had arrived on Wednesday from Nelspruit in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa to hear the verdict, wore a poster which read: “Imprison for Reeva”.
Lorraine Naidoo said she was at the Pretoria High Court on behalf of her social media friends all over the world. “I believe justice will be served,” she said.
But if there was anyone pro ‘Oscar is guilty’ who stole the show, it was none other than a German woman who has lived in South Africa for 18 years, Caroline Trummer. The 48-year-old stole the limelight when she appeared at the Pretoria High Court on a heavily decorated Harley Davidson motor bike with a black male biker on tow ÔÇô his name Simon Moropana.
Trummer without doubt must have taken time planning for Pistorius’ judgement day – if only she could influence the verdict of Judge Masipa. Her bike was emblazoned with placards, ‘You reap what you sow’, Oscar you can stop acting now’, and ‘Think outside the box’. Her motor bike registration NT Guilty GP had four US flags mounted on it. There was a small coffin at the rear of the motor bike emblazoned with the words ‘Think outside the box’ while in front there was a picture of a cat. On the sides of the motor cycle were two black bags synonymous with those of cowboys with the body of the bike decorated in pin.
“In my opinion I don’t think that Oscar would have carried out the shooting without knowing who was behind the toilet door. I hope to hear the verdict in favour of Reeva. I hope he’ll be convicted. The country is tired of the trial of Oscar,” she said wearing shades and tight jeans. Trummer would desire that Pistorius serve a jail sentence of between 15 and 20 years for the murder of his girlfriend saying Pistorius is not telling the truth in his defence that he mistook his girlfriend for an intruder.
“You have to come out clean Oscar if you have a conscience,” said Trummer.
Inside the courtroom Pistorius, wearing a dark suit, a black tie and white shirt, listened intently as Judge Masipa read the judgment based on thousands of pages of witnesses including that of experts from both the State and the defence.
There was an early sense of suspicion that Pistorius may not be held accountable for his actions, and so may not be charged with murder, when the judge pointed out that Pistorius may have acted under duress when he fatally shot his girlfriend four times while she locked herself inside the toilet in Pistorius’ mansion.
“If the Judge is convinced that Oscar was in distress when he fired the fatal shots at Reeva, then he cannot be deemed to have acted reasonably. It is like avoiding an oncoming vehicle while you are driving. You may swerve yours to left or right to avoid being hit. You cannot be deemed to be reasonable by your actions. Holding a gun and shooting in public is negligence,” lawyer Mighty Gwabeni of Gwabeni Inc. Attorneys told the Sunday Standard. Pistorius faces, among other counts charges of being in possession of unlawful
ammunition and firing gunshot(s) at an up market restaurant while dining with friends.
The shots that Pistorius fired caused injury, serious and fatal, to Steenkamp’s head, right groin, right upper arm and right hip (not in that sequence).